What Is “Economy Shipping”?
“Economy shipping” is low man on the totem pole. It is, wherever the term is used, the absolutely lowest-cost option, and by extension, the slowest. If the carrier offers an economy shipping option, there won’t be a slower, less-expensive option than that.
With economy, you’re essentially telling the carrier, “I don’t care how long it takes to arrive; just give me the cheapest possible option.” Economy aslo means exclusively ground shipping, except for when the journey from origin to destination covers sections that wheels can’t be used (such as going overseas).
As far as shipping timelines, economy shipping methods tend to be the least precise, though five business days is a common estimate (and a mostly reliable one). But it can be… longer than that.
Shipping within zones one to four won’t actually be much slower than more expensive options. Shipping to anything beyond zone five, though, will likely see much longer times. And heaven help you if you’re shipping coast to coast or (*shudder*) outside the Lower 48.
Additionally, if you’re choosing an economy shipping option on a retailer’s site as part of a purchase, it’s important to be aware that you’re not just telling the retailer to ship it via the slowest method, but that you don’t care how long it takes to arrive.
This lack of urgency has an effect on how they prioritize the fulfillment of the order and, in some cases, they will fulfill a more urgent order first if there’s a conflict (such as insufficient inventory).
So just be aware, if you choose economy, you’re essentially electing to go last.