It's less than four weeks until Christmas Day. So if you've still got some shopping to do it's time to get a move on, especially if you plan to do most of it online.
To avoid disappointment you need to order in time for your goods to be delivered to you. Online retailers have key dates that represent the last chance to ensure you do, which can vary from very early in December to right up until a couple of days before Christmas.
To give you a helping hand, here are the last online order dates for some of the biggest retailers that will guarantee your gifts will be delivered in time for the big day.
Habitat – if you're ordering large items this is the last day to get your order in time for Christmas. Smaller items like home accessories can be ordered until the 18th of December. At the moment you can get free delivery for small goods when you spend over £50 or on large items costing more than £500 in total. Otherwise charges range from £4.95 to £9.95.
Lakeland – order by midday today for hampers to arrive on time. You have until midnight on Wednesday the 19th of December for standard delivery of other goods (£2.99, or free on orders over £30). But next day delivery (£5.00) is available on general orders placed before 3pm on Thursday 20th of December.
Mamas and Papas – order by midnight for larger items like cots and prams to arrive in time for Christmas. Smaller goods can be ordered up until midnight on Tuesday the 18th of December. Charges range from £4.95 to £39.95 depending on the size of the items but if you spend over £50 you can get free standard delivery.
Photobox – for A3 personalised photo books today is your last day for first class delivery that will get to you in time for Christmas. But there are plenty of other photo products that have extended deadlines so check this page for a comprehensive guide.
Oxfam – today is the last day to order Oxfam gift sets to be delivered in time for the big day using standard delivery (£3.95). But you have until the 17th of December for donated gifts and ethical collection products.
Early Learning Centre – last day for orders using free standard delivery.
House of Fraser – order until 7pm for standard delivery (£3, or free on orders of over £50). But you have until 7pm on the 20th of December for next day delivery (£6).
Warehouse – final date for standard delivery (£2.99) or until the 21st of December for next day delivery (£4.99).
Waterstones – order by 3pm today for free delivery by second class post. For first class delivery (£2.75 for the first item plus 55p per additional item) you have until the 18th of December or until the 20th of December for free delivery to your local store.
Cheapsmells – final day for free standard deliveries.
Whittard – order before 11pm for standard delivery service (£3.50, or free if you spend over £30). Alternatively you can order before 2pm on the 20th of December for the next day delivery service (£6.50).
The Body Shop – last day for standard delivery (£1.99).
ASOS - last day for free standard delivery, but you can order as late as the 23rd of December by 2pm for next/nominated day delivery (£5.95).
Amazon – final day for free super saver delivery orders. However, you have until 20th December to order by first class or the 23rd of December for one-day delivery (charges vary depending on the item ordered).
Debenhams – you have until midnight today to get general orders delivered for free in time for the big day. For those with cosmetic presents in mind the cut-off is midnight on Wednesday the 19th of December.
Play.com - order today for free standard delivery or until the 21st of December for express delivery (£4.99-£8.99).
Fig Leaves – order before midday today for delivery in time for Christmas using second class postage (£3.50) or by 4pm on the 19th of December via an express courier (£6).
M&S – Christmas hampers need to be ordered by the 18th of December if you want to use standard delivery (£3.50). However, you have a little longer for gift cards, vouchers, clothing, home, beauty, wine, gifts & entertainment (19th December for standard delivery).
Hotel Chocolat – last day for guaranteed Christmas Eve arrival using standard delivery (£3.95-£4.95 depending on how much you order). You have until 2.30pm on Saturday the 22nd of December to use the next day delivery service, which will set you back between £4.95 and £6.95.
Accessorize - order today for free standard delivery. You can place orders until 2pm on the 20th of December for next day delivery (£5.95).
Oasis – order until midnight on the 19th of December for standard delivery (£2.99). But you can pay £4.99/£3.99 until the 21st of December for next/nominated day delivery. Oasis also offers a 90-minute delivery service in selected areas on selected products ordered up to 3pm on 24th December for £7.99. Now that really is cutting it fine!
Office – orders must be placed by 2.30pm, costing £3.50 for UK mainland and Northern Ireland customers.
Topshop – last day for orders using standard delivery (£4). Alternatively, with next/nominated delivery (£5) you can place orders until 6pm on the 21st of December.
Coast – last day for standard delivery (£2.99). But you have until 4pm on the 21st of December for next/nominated day delivery (£4.99).
Selfridges – today is the last day for standard delivery (£4.95). Orders placed by 6pm will get to you by Friday the 23rd of December. But you could leave it until Thursday 22nd December if you are prepared to pay between £8.00 and £10.00 for nominated day/time delivery.
Game – up to 1pm today is your last chance to order in time for Christmas with free first class delivery.
Ernest Jones – for standard delivery (£3), orders must be placed by 2pm on the 20th of December. Or you have until 3pm on the 21st of December for next day delivery (£5).
Schuh – you have until midnight tonight for free standard delivery orders. The next day and nominated service (£4.99) can help up until 4pm on the 21st of December.
Thorntons – orders must be made by 10.30am for standard delivery (£3.95). But if you pick next/named day delivery (£6.95) you have until 4pm on the 21st of December.
Not On The Highstreet – you have until 11am today for standard delivery (can cost £4.75, but many items are delivered for free) or until 11am on Friday the 21st of December with express delivery (£4.95-£6.95). If you want to personalise a gift you will need to order much earlier though - check the website for more details on particular products.
John Lewis – order by 7pm for standard delivery in time for Christmas Eve (£3, or free for orders over £50).
Next – to get gifts for all the family in time order by 9pm today to get standard next working day delivery (£3.99). If you place an order before 9pm on Saturday 22nd of December it can be delivered on Sunday for an extra £3.
Asda – can still order today for next day delivery, subject to availability of delivery slots.
High Street casualties
Retailers' last order dates for Christmas deliveries
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.
Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.
The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.
Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.
Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.
La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.
Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.
Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.
Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.
The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.
Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.
Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.