LAST OOOOORDERS! Don’t be caught out. The deadlines for free and cheap delivery before Christmas are FAST approaching

If you’re shopping online for gifts, the deadline for ordering to get ’em in time for Christmas may be sooner than you think. Get it wrong and instead of presents under the tree, they could be held hostage at a courier firm’s out-of-town depot…

To help avoid this, retailers now give their own final cut-off dates for orders you want delivered before Christmas. In most cases, there are two separate deadlines – firstly, for cheapest standard delivery, and secondly, for costlier ‘express’ delivery services, which may be worth the extra money depending on how much you can save by shopping online.

But there are no guarantees, as often a spanner can be thrown into the works – such as the threat of workers striking (see our Post Office strike news article) – so you need to weigh up the risks and any additional costs compared with possibly paying a bit more on the high street.

If buying online, do it as soon as possible to minimise the risk of disappointment.

Christmas last order dates 2016

Below, we’ve listed a few examples of last order dates from 10 of the biggest UK retailers…

Retailer For cheapest delivery (cost) For latest delivery (cost) For click & collect (cost)
Amazon Tue 20 Dec (free) Sat 24 Dec (from free via Prime, varies by item) N/A
Asos Fri 23 Dec, 8pm (£3) Fri 23 Dec, 8pm (£5.95) Fri 23 Dec, 6pm (£3)
Boots Mon 19 Dec, 8pm (£3.50) Fri 23 Dec, 8pm (£5.50) Fri 23 Dec, 8pm (free)
Currys Tue 20 Dec, 4pm (free) Fri 23 Dec, 9pm (£3.95) Sat 24 Dec, 3pm (free)
Debenhams Tue 20 Dec, 7pm (£3.49) Fri 23 Dec, 7pm (£6.99) Fri 23 Dec, 7pm (£2)
John Lewis Tue 20 Dec, 7pm (£3.50) Thu 22 Dec, 8pm (£6.95) Thu 22 Dec, 8pm (£2)
M&S Sun 18 Dec, 10pm (£3.50) Thu 22 Dec, 10pm (£3.99) Thu 22 Dec, 8pm (free)
Next Thu 22 Dec (£3.99) N/A Thu 22 Dec (free)
Tesco Direct Sun 18 Dec, 5pm (£3) Thu 22 Dec, 5pm (£5.95) Thu 22 Dec, 5pm (free)
Toys ‘R’ Us Tue 20 Dec (£2.95) Wed 21 Dec (£6.95) Fri 23 Dec (free)

These are just a few of the biggies. We’ve had to leave others out (eg, Argos), as their press offices have either ignored our requests or failed to provide the information. Yet many retailers do list the info on their websites for all to see – so it’s worth checking if you’re after one not listed above.

Late delivery rights

By law, delivery only needs to be “within a reasonable time”, which could be up to 30 days – no use for Christmas. For you to get a refund if an item doesn’t arrive in time, the retailer must have stated goods will arrive by the 25th. If you can’t prove this, you’ve no comeback – though you’ve extra rights when buying via the web. For more info, see our guide on Delivery Rights.

A gentle reminder…

In previous years, retailers have brought forward their last order dates due to couriers struggling to cope with demand or bad weather. Though last order dates are a useful guide, it’s better to take them with a pinch of salt than to trust them as a guarantee.

Basically, if you’re going to buy online, do it sooner rather than later – unless you’re happy to hold on for the chance of a last-minute bargain, despite knowing the risk of it not arriving in time.

Have you had good/bad experiences when ordering Christmas presents online at last minute? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter.