Holiday Shipping Deadlines 2021: Cut-off dates and what to do after

Around the holidays, shipping and logistics become trickier than usual. Between higher than average order volumes to arrange, anxious customers, and strained last-mile logistics chains, it’s no surprise that the last weeks before the end of the holiday season are so stressful.

That’s why it’s so important to communicate order deadlines to your customers. We’ve compiled below a list of some major couriers in the US, Canada, and UK, so you have an easy point of reference to go back to over the next couple of weeks. 

However it isn’t just about what you do up until order deadlines that matters, but what you do afterwards. If you scroll through the shipping deadlines, we’ve also included some advice for what you should do after deadlines have passed.

Cut-off Dates

Please note that we’re only including services and dates which have not yet passed as of the date of publication (Wednesday 8th December). It’s worth checking in with your courier partners if you’re not already sure of your cut-off dates for shipping. 

FedEx (US)

US Inland Services

  • FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground - Wednesday 15th December
  • FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight - Tuesday 21st December
  • FedEx 2Day - Wednesday 22nd December
  • FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours - Thursday 23rd December
  • FedEx SameDay - Friday 24th December

US to Canada Services

  • International Economy - Friday 17th December
  • International Priority - Saturday 18th December
  • International First - Thursday 23rd December
  • International Next Flight - Friday 24th December

For other countries and regions such as the UK and Europe, please click here.

UPS (US)

US Inland Services

  • Ground  - Check the UPS website for a quote.
  • 3-Day Select - Tuesday 21st December
  • 2nd Day Air  - Wednesday 22nd December
  • Next Day Air - Thursday 23rd December

US to Canada Services

  • Standard - Check the UPS website for a quote.
  • Worldwide Expedited - Tuesday 21st December
  • Worldwide Express - Thursday 23rd December

For other countries and regions, please check your local UPS portal.

USPS

US Inland Services

  • Retail Ground - Wednesday 15th December
  • First-Class Mail - Friday 17th December
  • Priority Mail - Saturday 18th December
  • Priority Mail Express - Thursday 23rd December

US to International Services

Region

Priority Mail Express Intl

Global Express Guaranteed

Africa

Monday 20th December

Asia

Monday 13th December

Monday 20th December

Australia/New Zealand

Monday 13th December

Monday 20th December

Canada

Monday 13th December

Wednesday 22nd December

Central/South America

Monday 20th December

Europe

Monday 13th December

Tuesday 21st December

Mexico

Monday 13th December

Wednesday 22nd December

Middle East

Monday 13th December

Monday 20th December


Canada Post

Canada Inland Services

Priority

Xpress Post

Flat Rate Box

Regular Parcel

Local

21st

21st

21st

20th

Regional

21st

21st

17th

15th

National

21st

20th

13th

9th


Canada to US Services

  • Priority - Tuesday 21st December
  • Xpress Post - Thursday 16th December
  • Expedited Parcel - Monday 13th December

Canada to International Services

Priority Worldwide services cut-off between the 10th and 16th of December - please click here for further details.

DHL/Deutsche Post 

  • UK to Europe - Monday 13th December
  • UK Inland Services - Tuesday 21st December
  • Germany to Neighboring Countries - Wednesday 15th December 

For additional services and regions, see the DHL website. 

Royal Mail (UK)

UK Inland Services

  • 2nd Class/Royal Mail 48 - Saturday 18th December
  • 1st Class/Royal Mail 24 - Tuesday 21st December
  • Tracked 24 - Wednesday 22nd December
  • Special Delivery Guaranteed - Thursday 23rd December

International Services

  • UK to USA/Canada - Monday 13th December
  • UK to Eastern Europe - Saturday 11th December
  • UK to Rest of Europe - Thursday 16th December

For a full list of services, countries and regions, please visit the Royal Mail website.

DPD (UK)

UK Inland Services

Thursday 23rd December

International Services

  • DPD Classic
    The cut off for most UK to Europe services is Thursday 16th December.
    Click here for full details.

  • DPD Air Classic/Express
    The cut off for most UK to Europe services is 16th to 20th December
    UK to USA/Canada - 15th to 17th December
    Click here for full details.

  • What to do in the days before your shipping deadline

    Before we move on, we would recommend setting your deadline earlier than your courier partners’ cut-off dates. This ensures that you have plenty of time to pick, pack, and ship orders, without worrying about a sudden influx of orders that may not arrive on time. Even if the courier has stated it will arrive by a certain date, you don’t want to risk running into delays and customer orders arriving much later. You may lose out on a couple days of physical sales, but you’ll also improve the customer experience as you’ll save frustration for customers who may have encountered delays.

    In the days before that cut-off date, you want to be as clear as possible with customers to let them know it’s their final chance to secure that perfect gift in time for the holidays. 

    • Use all your communication channels to ensure that it’s crystal clear to any potential customers when they need to order by.

    • If you have different deadlines by region, then use email segmentation to target your most engaged customers, including gift ideas and personalized recommendations to capture their attention.

    • Ramp up your automations for cart abandonment, letting those potential customers know that if they want to secure those baskets they need to order soon.

    Vida Deadline email


    What to do after deadlines have passed

    When order deadlines have passed, it comes time to think about what you’ll do to maximize the customer experience and continue your sales momentum.

    Step #1 - Create a site banner

    First and foremost, you need to communicate clearly to anyone visiting your site after deadlines that your cut-off date for delivery has passed. This can easily be achieved with a site banner, as this will follow the customer throughout your store leaving no room for ambiguity. Include when the next date for dispatch is, and a link through to any relevant FAQ information.

    Step #2 - Promote gift cards

    Did you know that 44% of last-minute holiday shoppers plan to buy gift cards? Gift cards offer customers a convenient solution to finding that perfect gift even when they can’t get a physical item in time. They’re also something you can easily promote and sell in the days after your shipping deadline has passed.

    To promote gift cards, you should…

    • Add them to your homepage as a hero image 
    • Add a primary navigation link
    • Promote with email and social media campaigns 
    • Target Abandoned Carts with gift card emails 

    We recently published an article about promoting gift cards on your store - you can check that out here.

    It’s important to remember that while some of your customers will opt instead to shop in-store, there will be a large majority who would prefer a quick and simple solution to their gifting needs. If they’re already engaged with your brand, and want to get a gift from your store for their intended recipient, a gift card is a great option especially if they’re unsure what to buy generally. 

    Step #3 - Utilize out-of-stock features

    As customers purchase their last-minute gifts before deadlines, you’ll start to run into more out-of-stocks. If you’re using Govalo for your gift card experience, you’ll have access to our out-of-stock integration. This is an excellent tool during that period of the holiday season where you can’t ship more orders, but you don’t want to lose out on interest and sales. 

    In short, when a variant runs out in product inventory, your product page will instead offer the option to purchase a gift card. 

    Govalo stock integration

    Especially during the holidays, seeing an out-of-stock is bad for the customer experience. It acts as a sort of dead-end - they know even if they sign up for back-in-stock notifications, there’s no way it will arrive in time for the holidays. Therefore the option to purchase a gift card gives them a really great alternative, and you don’t lose out on a customer just because they were a bit late in making a purchase.