Christmas is almost upon us yet if you're like us there are still some presents to be bought and you don't particularly fancy popping along to the heaving shops to get them. Therefore, online shopping is much more attractive, even though it's late in the day, as they are still happily delivering. However, one thing that might put you off is that you don't expect to be home during the day very often, when parcels are usually delivered.
Never fear. Some of the major retailers now offer alternative ways for you to get your online purchase. You no longer have to leave a note saying leave it in the bin shed or ask a neighbour kindly to keep hold of it for you until you get back. Instead, you can collect your item(s) on your way to or returning from work.
So here's some of the options online retailers offer that will help you get your packages without having to stay in all day...
eBay and Argos Click & Collect
eBay offers a Click & Collect service across 650 Argos stores up and down the UK. Thousands of sellers on the online auction site are signed up the scheme, so that when you order something from them you can choose your most convenient store to pick it up from. When your parcel is ready for collection, you will receive an email and/or text message telling you that you can come in to get it.
The message will have a collection code that you need to show the helper in store and that's about it. Simple.
Free delivery is available on millions of items, while some also offer express delivery to get them to the stores faster.
Argos Collect Underground
Argos itself is also spreading its wings. It has opened its first digital store on London Underground in partnership with Transport for London that offers a collection service for items ordered online.
Argos Collect is situated in Cannon Street Tube station and is the first of its type on the transport network. The retailer is trialling digital stores in other parts of the country too, meaning you order and visit rather than choose your items there.
Amazon Click & Collect and Same-Day collection
Amazon.co.uk has several ways of receiving packages when you are not in, including at Underground stations like Argos. There are Amazon Click & Collect lockers at Finchley Central and Newbury Park Tube stations - in their respective car parks. There are other lockers dotted around too.
Same-Day collection is also available as a free service for Amazon Prime members or for £4.99 a delivery for non-members. You can have a parcel delivered to more than 500 newsagents and convenience stores up and down the country - basically any that have the Pass my Parcel branding. Order an item by 11.45am in the morning and you'll be able to pick it up from 4pm to 11.59pm, depending on the opening times of your local store.
Alternatively, you can order an item by 7.45pm and you'll be able to pick it up the next morning from 6.30am.
You can find out where your local pick up point or locker is here.
Amazon and Royal Mail
Amazon has also struck a deal with the Royal Mail to use all of its 10,500 Post Office locations around the country as pick up points.
Free deliveries to Post Office locations are available to Prime subscribers, with non-members charged First Class delivery.
John Lewis Click & Collect and Collect+
John Lewis also runs a Click & Collect service for ordering online. If you order an item by 8pm you are able to collect it from a designated store by 2pm the day after. That includes both branches of John Lewis and select Waitrose supermarkets.
This is a free service. However, you can also have an item delivered to a Collect+ shop for an additional £3 if one of those is closer. There are 5,500 Collect+ shops around the country and you will be able to pick up an item the next day if you order it online by 2pm.
You can find a Collect+ store near you here.
If you don't want to order your goods from any of the above, you can always Doddle.it.
Doddle is a service that will deliver parcels ordered from any online retailer to one of sevral Doddle shops around the country. You can use an iPhone app to check out when your parcel is ready to collect or can be sent a code directly if you use a different kind of device.
You just need to put an alternative address when you check out after shopping online and choose a Doddle shop nearby, along with your name and Doddle account number.
Until Christmas, Doddle collection is a free service too. All you need to do is sign up. After Christmas it will cost £1.95 to have an item delivered to collect. You can also send packages to others through the service for £2.99.
Find out more at doddle.it.