Wal-Mart beefs up delivery options for online shoppers as Christmas countdown begins

An employee arranges holiday clothing at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in Burbank, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee arranges holiday clothing at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in Burbank, California.

With 12 days left until Christmas, Wal-Mart is vying to be the online and in-store destination for procrastinators by beefing up purchasing and pick-up options for shoppers.

The world’s largest retailer said Tuesday it is offering free in-store pickup of online orders placed by 6 p.m. local time on Dec. 23, and has launched a dedicated online website for customers to view last-minute gift inventory available at their local store.

“We are making it easy for customers to find last-minute gifts in stores and online by ensuring we’re stocked with top items and offering Pickup through Dec. 24. December is also the biggest month for food and we are ready for grocery shoppers purchasing ingredients for all occasions — from everyday meals to Christmas dinner,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S.

Shipping cut-off dates are Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 at noon local time for standard and rush shipping respectively and Wal-Mart stores will close at 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve this year — two hours earlier than in previous years.

With seven of 10 consumers saying they will take advantage of free shipping offers this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Holiday Survey results, retailers have no choice but to compete.

Target has extended its free shipping offer this holiday season, which began Oct. 25 and will last through Jan. 1.

Wal-Mart is offering free two-day shipping on more than 1,500 toys from Dec. 14 to Dec. 21.

Amazon’s cut-off date for free shipping is Friday, but standard shipping for delivery on Christmas Eve is available until Dec. 19, according toAmazon’s website. “Prime” members, who pay an annual subscription fee for free two-day shipping services, can order as late as Dec. 22.

Many retailers, while still offering free shipping during the holiday season, are not overtly advertising it on websites, according to PwC’s weekly analysis of 40 retail and consumer companies’ websites and promotional emails.

In the latest week, Apple, Best Buy, Costco, Enjoy.com, Lululemon,Nordstrom, Target, Toys R Us, Under Armour and Urban Outfitters were among the retailers still offering free shipping with no minimum purchase, according to PwC. Others were offering the perk on select items or to loyal customers only, they said.

And for the most egregious procrastinator, many retailers are working with last-mile delivery companies such as Uber and Instacart to get goods to your door in two hours or less, but often for a hefty price.

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