For last-minute shoppers, it's all about shipping

Folks still fret over how many shopping days are left until Christmas. But Net-savvy shoppers worry about something else: How many shipping days?

After Monday, there are seven shopping days until Christmas, but the number of shipping days varies depending on who's doing the shipping — and how much consumers are willing to spend.

"Consumers continue to buy online later and later," says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group, an online retail consultancy. "So merchants keep extending their deadlines to get as much of the pie as possible."

This week, more packages will be shipped than any week of the year, says Susan Rosenberg, UPS ups spokeswoman. More packages, cards and letters will be mailed at the post office today — roughly 1 billion — than any day of the year, says Joanne Veto, spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service.

A holiday shipping update:

•UPS. The company's busiest day will be Wednesday, when it expects to ship 22 million packages, says Rosenberg. Its 2007 ground fuel surcharge is 3.5% and air fuel surcharge is 11.5%.

•USPS. Monday is the last day to send domestic mail for arrival before Christmas, says Veto. Express Mail sent by Saturday comes with a guarantee for arrival by Christmas. Express Mail is delivered on Christmas Day, she notes.

•FedEx. Monday will be FedEx's fdx busiest day of the year, and it expects to ship 11.3 million packages, says spokesman Howard Clabo. Saturday is the last day to ship in time for Christmas arrival.

•Wal-Mart.com. Wal-Mart's wmt standard shipping window expires Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. PT, says spokesman Ravi Jariwala.

•Amazon.com. Monday is its deadline for free shipping for most orders of $25 or more, says Amazon amzn spokesman Craig Berman. Tuesday is the deadline for standard shipping orders to arrive by Christmas Day.

•ToysRUs.com. The site on Monday extends free shipping through Tuesday for purchases over $49, says spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh.

•Bestbuy.com. The electronics retailer's standard shipping deadline for Christmas is Thursday at 11 a.m. ET, says Chap Achen, director of Best Buy's bby order management. "The longer we can extend the cut-off date, the more likely consumers are to shop with us."

•Circuitcity.com. The company is offering free shipping for any order over $24. The last day for standard shipping is by 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, says Mark Oldani, vice president of Circuit City Direct cc. The company is offering 10% off any order purchased online but picked up at the store by Saturday.

•Landsend.com. Standard shipping for Christmas ends at midnight ET Wednesday, says spokeswoman Land's End shld Amanda Broderick. Monogrammed items for Christmas can be ordered through Tuesday.

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