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6 Best Stores for Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

Dec. 21, 2016
Holiday Tips & News, Shopping
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As December ticks down to Christmas, you might still have some holiday shopping to do — and you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted in early December by the National Retail Federation, 90% of consumers still had wish lists to complete. Many stores have extended hours to accommodate the holiday rush, but a half-dozen offer last-minute deals and additional services to further save you money and time. Here’s a roundup of retailers to visit during Christmas crunch time.

Best Buy

The electronics retailer continues to offer top-name tech deals in the days leading up to Christmas, including its Apple shopping event and discounts on select 4K TVs. You can save on popular gifts such as the DJI Phantom 4 camera drone ($200 savings) or Xbox One S gaming bundles ($50 savings). For Nintendo gamers, Best Buy is restocking the Nintendo NES classic console in limited quantities Dec. 20, available in store only.  

Store hours: During Dec. 19-23, Best Buy stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., then from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Shipping deadlines:

  • Free two-day shipping. Available through 11:30 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 21 for qualifying purchases — laptops, tablets, wireless headphones, movies, music and games included. No minimum purchase required.
  • Store pickup. Available on orders placed by 4 p.m. local time Dec. 24. Best Buy says most in-store pickup orders are ready within 45 minutes; however, larger items such as TVs may take additional time.


Kohl’s offers an array of gifts for virtually any person on your list, including popular toys and gadgets such as Fitbit wearables, Bluetooth speakers and video games. The site’s holiday shop features gift suggestions for certain “types” of people, such as “Top Techies” and “Beauty Queens.” Most Kohl’s stores will be open around the clock in the days leading up to Christmas.

Store hours: Open at 7 a.m. Dec. 20 and closed at 6 p.m. Dec. 24.

Shipping deadlines and services:

      • E-gift cards. Send a Kohl’s e-gift card as late as 10 p.m. Central on Christmas Day and have it arrive to your recipient’s inbox in minutes.
      • Free in-store pickup. Filter your gift search by selecting the “Free Pickup in Store” option so you know exactly what your nearest store has in stock, or where you can find a specific item you’re looking for. You’ll be notified when your order is ready (usually within two hours), but if your purchase is placed after 5 p.m., it won’t be processed until the next day.

» MORE: Order by these dates to deliver by Christmas


Nordstrom offers a robust set of services for even the most time-strapped shopper. Whether you’re looking for holiday party attire or gifts for family and friends, Nordstrom has you covered.

Store hours: Extended holiday hours vary by location. Most stores open until 6 p.m. Dec. 24.

Shipping deadlines and services:

      • Christmas Eve delivery. Orders must be placed by noon Eastern on Dec. 22, with some items eligible for free shipping.
      • Buy online, pick up in store. Shop the available merchandise in your nearest Nordstrom and learn about when you can pick up your order (and complimentary gift boxes) within one hour of ordering. Purchases must be placed during regular business hours.
      • Curbside services. Call or text Nordstrom that you’re on your way, and a store associate will bring your online order to the curb or a reserved parking spot. This service is available at Nordstrom’s full-line stores — more than 100 offering curbside service, 57 with reserved parking spots and 48 stores offering both.
      • UberRush. For $15, your Nordstrom purchase will be delivered right to your doorstep. Orders placed by 1 p.m. will be received by 8 p.m., but those made after that cutoff time will be delivered by 8 p.m. the following day. Shoppers can take advantage of UberRush until 12:59 p.m. Pacific to receive the items by 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. UberRush is available in select areas in the San Francisco Bay Area; Seattle and Bellevue, Washington; Chicago; and Dallas.
      • Chatbot. Sign onto Facebook Messenger or Kik and Nordstrom’s chatbot service can streamline your gift search. After asking a few questions — such as “What does this person do on the weekends?” and “Which emoji relates to this person?” — the chatbot suggests an item from the store’s holiday Pop-In shop. You can also use the chatbot to speak with customer service specialists.
      • E-Gift. Select a gift to send to your recipient’s inbox, and he or she will receive it the same day. From there, the giftee can personalize the item, choosing size, color and even shipping method. The recipient can also opt for a gift card instead.

» MORE: 8 holiday restaurant gift cards


If you missed the shipping deadline, Sears’ pickup service lets you avoid lines and other last-minute Christmas crowds. Expect new deals to pop up in the days leading up to Christmas, including discounts starting at 30% on apparel for the whole family, electronics, tools, toys, home goods and even jewelry.

Store hours: Call your nearest Sears store for holiday hours. Most stores will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 24.

Shipping deadlines and services:

      • Drive-by services. Sears says its app members can pick up, return and exchange purchases — in five minutes or less — without leaving their cars.
      • Anyone, anywhere pickup. Have a friend or family member pick up your online order for free at the nearest Sears store.


You can treat big-box retailer Target as your one-stop Christmas shop, considering the many last-minute holiday deals, extended store hours and pickup options. The store’s weekly ad leading up to Christmas features discounts on sought-after gifts such as Apple Watch Series 1 (save $70), Xbox One S 500GB console (save $50) and Sonos speakers ($30 off all available models).

Store hours: Extended holiday hours vary by location. Most stores will be open until 10 or 11 p.m. Dec. 24; check your nearest Target to confirm.

Shipping deadlines and services:

      • Deliver by Christmas. Order eligible items by 4 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 21 and select the holiday shipping option.
      • Same-day order pickup. Place online orders by 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve and pick up at your local Target by closing time. Qualifying items should say “free ship to store” or “free order pickup” when you are adding them to your cart.

Toys R Us

Sometimes it’s hard to buy gifts under the watchful eyes of little ones. Toys R Us has extended hours so you can shop after bedtime — plus toy experts will help you check off every item on kids’ wish lists. Deals and sales change every day, but discounts can be as steep as 50% on select items and brands. For down-to-the-wire shoppers, Toys R Us will be open for 39 straight hours Dec. 23 through Christmas Eve.

Store hours: Toys R Us stores (with the exception of Paramus, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico and some others; check online for your local store) will be open 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next day beginning Dec. 17, and from 6 a.m. Dec. 23 to 9 p.m. Dec. 24.

Shipping deadlines and services:

      • Store maps. Find the exact toy you’ve been looking for with a detailed map showing brands and in-store locations.
      • “GPS Navigators.” Toy experts dubbed “Gurus for Play Stuff” are stationed at Toys R Us storefronts to help you navigate the store and find the right gift. These navigators are available on weekends and peak traffic periods leading up to Christmas.
      • Guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. Place expedited orders before 3 p.m. or express shipping orders before 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 21 to guarantee arrival by Dec. 24.
      • Free in-store pickup. Shoppers using the free in-store pickup service have until 6 p.m. Eastern on Christmas Eve to send in their orders.

Keep in mind

Gift cards may serve as the go-to last-minute gift, but putting some thought into your gift-giving makes it more personal. Saving time and money when you’re Christmas shopping is important, but you also lose out when a gift doesn’t fit the recipient. Think outside the box, make a list, set a budget and have a game plan in place before tackling your last-minute Christmas shopping.

Nina Tabios is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Nina_NerdWallet.