Saving on holiday shipping takes shopping around

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Shoppers are buying mountains of Christmas presents and many will spend piles of cash shipping them to loved ones across the country.

Bob King juggled three Christmas presents into the post office Wednesday, where he spent $55 shipping gifts that cost him only $30 to buy.

"It's crazy. It's nuts, but you have to do it," King said.

But do you have to spend that much? Using some typical Christmas gifts, like clothes, books and photo frames, Eyewitness News set out to find out which major shipper was the cheapest.

First was a fleece shirt to go with a pair of heavy winter pants, boxed up for a destination in New Jersey. Two-day shipping at the post office costs $19.80, while five-day arrival - to get it there by Monday - was only $12.40.

But at the UPS Store, things got a little complicated. Two-day shipping was $16.66 - more than three dollars cheaper than the post office - but the five-day option rang up at $34.19. It would be cheaper to have the package delivered by Friday than after the weekend.

The same held true at FedEx. Two business day delivery was $14.77. Waiting until Monday costs twice as much - $30.19 - and there were a lot of other even more expensive choices.

Cathy O'Brien did some comparison shopping and reached the same conclusion. The post office came out on top with the lowest prices.

"It was easy. It was painless," she said.

Numerous factors determine shipping costs. Getting gifts to grandma's house without putting you in the poor house, requires some comparison shopping.

The post office came out on top because we weren't in a hurry to get the gifts there. FedEx had the lowest two business day shipping.

Rates vary with the shipping time and distance, as well as the weight and size of the box. You can save money with a smaller box.

As for shipping deals, last Christmas, the National Retail Federation found that nine out of ten "E-tailers" offered free shipping.

Shipping links

US Postal Service