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Here's what you need to know about the looming deadlines for shipping Christmas gifts

Delivery trucks in New York are lined up as the busiest time of the year for them has arrived.
Delivery trucks in New York are lined up as the busiest time of the year for them has arrived.
Published Dec. 14, 2016

The clock is ticking.

There's less than two weeks until Christmas, which may be plenty of time to pick up last-minute gifts from the mall. But if you've waited this long to order gifts online, you're going to pay extra for it if you expect it arrive before the holiday. Shipping deadlines are looming, and some of the least expensive shipping options expire this week.

Online shopping is playing a bigger role than ever this holiday season. New data compiled by the consulting firm Slice Intelligence show that Amazon captured 38 percent of all holiday spending the week after the Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping weekend. Compare that to big-box brands like Best Buy, which captured 2.6 percent of online revenue, or Walmart (2.8 percent) or Target (2.3 percent) during the first week of December.

But some of the busiest holiday shopping days are still ahead of us. Super Saturday, or the last Saturday before Christmas Day (Dec. 17 this year), will be the third-busiest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a research firm that monitors foot traffic in shopping centers. No. 2 is the day after Christmas. No. 1 was still Black Friday, despite the meager crowds we saw at Tampa Bay area malls this year.

Then there's always Free Shipping Day, which falls on Friday this year, when participating merchants offer free shipping on orders placed that day and promise to deliver packages before Dec. 23. This year there are more than 950 retailers participating in the last-push holiday.

Overall, the holiday shopping season is expected to be merry this year. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 3.6 percent sales boost over 2015. Total spending is expected to reach $655.8 billion. Online sales are expected to rise up to 10 percent to $117 billion. The Florida Retail Federation is anticipating a 4 percent bump for Florida-based stores, according to a news release.

"Florida's economy remains strong, unemployment is at a nine-year low, housing remains hot and 100 million extra shoppers in the form of tourists are expected again, which should lead to a successful holiday shopping season for our 270,000 retailers statewide," said Randy Miller, CEO of the FRF, in a statement. "Smart and savvy retailers will seize on this positive momentum by incorporating discounts, sales and other perks to stand out from the crowd this season."

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com. Follow @SunBizGriffin.