Amazon Stops Giving Holiday Shipping Cutoffs for Some Shoppers


Entering the heart of what’s widely expected to be a record holiday shopping season, Inc. is making fewer guarantees to customers who want to make sure packages arrive by Christmas.

In each of the last few years, the world’s largest online retailer has issued a mid-December press release listing its shipping deadlines, both for Prime subscribers and those who don’t pay $119 a year for free shipping and other perks.

The 2020 edition arrived on Wednesday without the usual cutoff dates for non-Prime subscribers. In recent years, these consumers typically had until mid-month to order items and receive them by the big day. By contrast, Prime members have until Dec. 23 this year to receive items available for one-day shipping and until Dec. 24 to get products that can be shipped the same day.

A spokeswoman said Amazon wanted to share details on its fastest shipping speeds for Prime members and expressed confidence in the company’s ability to handle a deluge of orders. Individual product listings on the website are the best way to determine anticipated delivery times, she said.

In the release, Amazon also took the opportunity to pitch a free Prime 30-day trial to non-subscribers.

With millions of people turning to online ordering to avoid shopping in person during the pandemic, this holiday season is putting unprecedented strain on delivery capacity. Some retailers have been cautious about making delivery guarantees. Worries about potentially late-arriving items have been amplified in recent days by a winter storm that is bearing down on some 51 million people in the Eastern U.S.

Amazon has scrambled to add capacity to its logistics arm this year to meet record sales spurred by the coronavirus. Some merchants who sell on Amazon’s site and consultants who advise them said during Thanksgiving week that delivery times on some products ballooned from one or two days to a week or more. Amazon at the time said the reports were anecdotal and didn’t represent what was happening across its delivery network.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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