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Amazon vows items ordered by Dec. 19 will arrive for Christmas

You still have a couple of days left to buy a gift for family members or friends via Amazon and receive free shipping.

Amazon

Amazon wants you to know it's not too late to order a gift to put under the tree -- and still get free shipping.

The retail giant has extended its free shipping cutoff date to this Friday, December 19. The free shipping deal lasts until 11:59 p.m. EST Friday and applies to anyone who orders a product through Amazon -- as long as the order tops $35.

Amazon Prime members have even more breathing room for last-minute gifts.

Those who subscribe to Amazon's $99-per-year Prime service can order an item on Monday, December 22, and get it before Christmas via free, two-day shipping. Taking it further, Prime members can order an item on December 23 and pay $2.99 for one-day shipping to get it in time.

Want to stretch it even further? You can, depending on where you live. Customers in one of 12 major metro areas can order an item as late as 10:00 a.m. local time on December 24 and receive it later that day, just in time to wrap it. This option will cost you $5.99 per shipment.

As Amazon battles with other online retailers, as well as brick-and-mortar stores, to tempt holiday shoppers, extending the free shipping deadline seems like a savvy idea.

The shipping extension is possible due to Amazon's growing network of fulfillment and sorting centers along with its relationship with carriers, including UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service, the retail giant told USA Today.

Amazon has been cooking up ways to ship products to customers in a quicker, more direct fashion. The company offers same-day delivery on groceries and dry goods. It's been testing the delivery of items through drones. The company has even been experimenting with its own shipping network. But for now, Amazon must maintain good relations with standard carriers to get its products to buyers as fast as possible.

Okay, so what if Christmas Day arrives and you suddenly remember you forgot someone? Amazon naturally suggests an Amazon gift card or a Prime subscription, both of which you can email to your recipient. Done.