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 postal workers striking, or extreme weather – 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 2017

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

Retailer For cheapest delivery (cost) For latest delivery (cost) For click & collect (cost) (i)
Amazon Wed 20 Dec (free) Sun 24 Dec, 12pm (from free via Prime, varies by item) N/A
Argos Fri 22 Dec (£3.95) Sun 24 Dec, 6pm (£3.95, Fast Track eligible items only) Sun 24 Dec (free) (ii)
Asos Tues 19 Dec (£3) Sat 23 Dec, 10am (£9.95) Fri 22 Dec, 7pm (£5.95)
Boots Wed 20 Dec, 7pm (£3.50) Thu 21 Dec, 7pm (£4.75) Sat 23 Dec, 8pm (free)
Currys Wed 20 Dec (free) Sun  24 Dec, 1pm (£9.95) Sun 24 Dec, 2pm (free) (ii)
Debenhams Mon 18 Dec (£3.49) Fri 22 Dec (£6.99) Sat 23 Dec (£2)
John Lewis Tue 19 Dec, 7pm (£3.50) Fri 22 Dec, 8pm (£6.95) Fri 22 Dec, 8pm (£2)
M&S Mon 18 Dec, 10pm (£3.50) Fri 22 Dec, 10pm (£3.99) Fri 22 Dec, 8pm (free)
Next No cheaper option Fri 22 Dec (£3.99) Fri 22 Dec (free)
Tesco Direct No cheaper option Sun 17 Dec, 5pm (£3) Thu 21 Dec, 5pm (free)
 (i) To collect by close of business on 24 Dec, (ii) Leave yourself enough time to collect from store before it closes

These are just a few of the biggies. 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.