NEW YORK – Holiday shopping procrastinators can breathe easy. Yes, most online shipping deadlines have passed. But many retailers are offering other ways to get gifts at the last minute, whether it's staying open through the wee hours of the night like Toys R Us, or offering Christmas Eve store pickup like Wal-Mart.
Here are some options for those still scrambling to buy presents:
Many stores are extending their hours in the days leading up to Christmas.
Toys R Us will stay open from 6 a.m. on Dec. 23 straight to 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, while department store Kohl's will stay open from Dec. 20 until Christmas Eve. Certain Macy's department stores will be open all night between Dec. 22 and Dec. 23. Sears will close at midnight through Dec. 23 and close at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. And Target will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight through Dec. 23 and stay open until at least 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
SHOP THE UNEXPECTED
If you can't make it to the mall, a quick stop at a drug or specialty store might work. CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid are increasingly stocking their shelves with more toys for the little ones. And those three drugstores also have a big selection of plastic gift cards for use at other stores, such as video game retailer GameStop or bookseller Barnes & Noble. Meanwhile, office supplies store Staples sells flying drones and adult coloring books. And Dick's Sporting Goods has Apple Watches, headphones and GoPro cameras.
If you want to avoid searching for items in the store, you're in luck. Many retailers let you buy items online and pick them up at a store the same day. After ordering and paying online, walk to a special section of the store with the confirmation email and ID and that's it. Macy's, Target and Best Buy are just some of the stores that offer store pickup. Wal-Mart says customers who order items before 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 can pick them up on Christmas Eve and even launched a website with the items that qualify at walmart.com/lastminutegifts. And at Sears.com, those who opt for store pickup between now and Christmas Eve can get 20 percent off clothing, jewelry and home goods if they type in a special promo code.
SEND AN E-GIFT
The websites of some major stores are offering a way to give an instant gift, called an e-gift. It's similar to a gift card, but is supposed to be a little more personal: You choose the item you want to buy — say sneakers or a sweater — click the "E-Gift" or "GiftNow" button, pay, and then the recipient gets an email telling them you bought them a gift. The gift receiver accepts it and can make adjustments, such as changing the color or size, before it ships. Or they can just get something else entirely from the store.
The service carries no extra charges to the gift giver or receiver, and is available on several websites, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren.
It will cost you more, but if you're desperate, you can get some items delivered the same day you order them online. Macy's offers same-day delivery in some cities and so does Nordstrom. But be aware, some may not deliver on Christmas Eve, like Nordstrom. If you're an Amazon.com Prime member paying the annual fee, the online retailer is lets shoppers in Miami, New York and other cities order toys, electronics and other gifts as late as 9:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve for delivery in two hours, meaning you'll get it before midnight.
OR JUST WAIT
Procrastination may work in your favor if you end up not seeing a person you're shopping for until after Christmas. That's when after-holiday sales kick in, says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert at shopping deal app RetailMeNot. If the timing works, you'll likely pay less for a gift than you would if you had bought it before the holidays, says Skirboll.