Online retailers and parcel carriers bore the wrath of customers during last year’s holiday season, when many gifts did not arrive on time to be opened on Christmas Day.

This year, retailers are hoping to make things right by adjusting their deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery. In a new survey from, the National Retail Federation’s digital division, nearly eight in 10 retailers will set their deadlines to expire at least a week before Christmas Day, up from seven out of 10 last season.

The 2014 eHoliday Retailer and Consumer Study of pre-holiday shipping deadlines also found that fewer retailers will take the gamble of setting “delivery by Christmas” deadlines at Dec. 19 or later. One in five will set those kinds of razor-thin deadlines, compared to one in four last year.

“It’s important to remember that the 2013 holiday season was impacted by a multitude of factors that affected the supply chain in the days leading up to Christmas, including bad weather and a shortened holiday calendar,” said Executive Director and NRF Senior Vice President Vicki Cantrell. “That said, retailers and their delivery partners this year are proactively planning to make sure they meet customer expectations for delivery and customer service. In addition to ramping up their online promotions earlier to entice customers to start shopping earlier in the season, many companies this year also have invested in functionalities such as live chat, checking in-store product availability and buy online – pick up in store.”

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

  • To capture last-minute sales, 43 percent of retailers said they would offer express 2-day shipping as late as Dec. 22; 50 percent said they would offer express 1-day shipping as late as Dec. 23.
  • Retailers will offer free standard shipping promotions to encourage shoppers to buy early and ship early. Time is of the essence, of course: three-quarters of retailers said Dec. 18 or earlier will be the deadline for shoppers to take advantage of free standard shipping promotions.
  • On a similar note, most free expedited shipping promotions—where available—will be gone by Monday, Dec. 22.