5 Spots for Really Last-Minute Christmas Shopping

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Rejoice, procrastinators: You have a whole calendar to blame for your last-minute pickups this year.

A late Thanksgiving put six fewer days between that holiday and Christmas this year than in 2012. That put the crunch on anyone holding to the priciple that holiday shopping shouldn't start until after Thanksgiving dinner hits the table, but leaves no excuse for just about anyone else.

Christmas decorations were being sold in department stores and home-and-garden chains in September. By October, candy canes had appeared in supermarkets and retailers held their first sales. In November, shoppers were in Target, Wal-Mart and other stores as early as Thanksgiving night taking advantage of holiday sales. If shoppers bypassed Cyber Monday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day and waited until today or later to shop, we can't say that was a great move. We can only say they're in good company.

According to a Consumer Reports survey of holiday shoppers in early December, 64% of consumers felt they had holiday shopping under control. A full 31% of people shopping for Christmas hadn't even started by that time. While there are some folks who hold off on gift exchanges until just after Christmas, New Year's or the Feast of the Epiphany -- the traditional end of the 12 days of Christmas on the Christian calendar -- there are others who just had the days pass a little too quickly for their liking this year.

It happens.

But don't worry. There are still ways for procrastinators to finish up their holiday shopping today or even tomorrow. We took one last look around the pre-holiday landscape and found five options for the most desperate holiday shoppers. Everyone else can sit and mock these options from their smug, satisfied position fortified by wrapped presents and stuffed stockings:


As we told you a few weeks back, shipping is still an option on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Amazon's local express shipping is still available for a finite amount of packages through Christmas Eve which means, yes, they'll be delivered Christmas Day. FedEx, meanwhile, will not only offer same-day shipping on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will make intracity deliveries in New York City, Houston, Memphis, Tenn., Baltimore, Tampa, Fla., or Phoenix, Ariz., on that day. UPS offers its Express Critical Service that will get packages delivered on Christmas as well.

We warn that none of the options above are particularly cost-effective. In fact, they're among the costliest shipping options offered by each. It's also not their fault that some of you have been spending the day before Christmas frantically searching for delivery options.

Cash-hungry retail chains

Kohl's opened its doors Dec. 20 and won't close them until tonight at 6 -- which gave you 111 consecutive hours to make up for your sloth. Toys R Us opened at 6 a.m. Dec. 21 and won't shut until 9 tonight.

Those are the die-hards.

Alternately, Target has been open from 7 a.m. to midnight since Dec. 21 and will be open Christmas Eve until 9 or 10, depending on location. Nordstrom started closing at 11 p.m. Dec. 18 and will be open on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If the big box stores were cool with hosting Black Friday sales in July and tempting shoppers into missing Thanksgiving dessert, there was no way they were going to miss out on those last-minute holiday purchases. The kind elves at the blog Offers.com put together a list of all the stores open Christmas Eve, and it's not exactly short.

Best BuyCostco, Sears, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble were among the retailers open last Christmas Eve, but have been coy about their Christmas Eve plans this year.

What is certain, however, is that none have expressed any enthusiasm for opening Christmas Day. If you haven't wrapped up by the end of the day today, chances are you're not getting gifts from any of the above tomorrow morning.

Digital gift cards

Regular gift cards are on the end caps of just about every supermarket and health-and-beauty store checkout line, but those require you to go out into the masses yet again. There's no reason for it. Digital gift cards offer your last chance to finish up your shopping without leaving the house.

A 2011 white paper by The Aberdeen Group with Transaction Wireless found 76% of consumers surveyed planned to adopt digital gift cards in the near future. Transaction Wireless found that, a year later, the majority of gift card purchases have switched to digital. They're emailed to you or your recipient immediately, they're easy to personalize with text, audio or video, they can be used on a store's website and they're a great option if that last person on your list lives nowhere near you.

They've also become a lot easier to use in recent years. According to gift card ratings site ScripSmart, companies including Gap, Nordstrom, Macy's, Home Depot and even Yum Brands' Pizza Hut have made their e-cards simple to get, easy to redeem in stores or online and easy to use across multiple brands such as The Gap's Old Navy, Athleta or Banana Republic.

The National Retail Federation found that 81% of shoppers planned on buying a gift card this year anyway. When you've waited this long, there's no reason to complicate matters further.

Health and beauty stores

Big retailers have their Black Friday, Cyber Monday and everything else: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day belong to the health and beauty store.

CVS and Walgreens have been issuing a few subtle reminders that not only are they open those days, but they're open late. Each has 24-hour locations open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both have regular hours on Christmas Eve -- remaining open until midnight in some cases -- at stores that aren't open 24 hours and have something resembling normal hours on Christmas Day.

You're not going to find an iPad Air at these places, but if you think you can sneak a third-party Android tablet past an unsuspecting relative, Walgreens touts a couple of $90 to $150 models. If you're coming here for anything more than some candy, magazines, razors or beauty supplies to stuff a stocking with, you're courting disappointment, though.

If you can find that elusive bad movie your sibling loves in the bargain bin or that Rihanna perfume your mom is too embarrassed to buy on her own, though, these stores can save your holiday.


It's not just for your chain-smoking, lottery-addicted uncle anymore.

7-Eleven has been the last refuge of holiday scoundrels for years, but the chain has gotten wise to its place on the Christmas food chain. Yes, there's still a Slurpee machine and rotating stock of Big Bite hot dogs and taquitos, but the stores have also started stocking gift cards, headphones, DVDs and, most importantly, batteries. It's great to have a stocking-candy nirvana open Christmas Day just in case, but knowing they have a full supply of batteries on the one day parents invariably forget that their child's favorite Christmas toy needs them usually gets this seemingly lowly convenience store chain high praise from families around this time of year.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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