Last minute Christmas shoppers pack area stores

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While Santa was harnessing his reindeer at the North Pole on Christmas Eve, some people were still making their gift list and checking it twice.

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Celestine El does a bit of last minute Christmas shopping with her friend's children Sariyah Wigfall, 3, and Zakayah Wigfall, 1, at the Kmart in North Augusta Thursday afternoon December 24, 2009.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Celestine El does a bit of last minute Christmas shopping with her friend's children Sariyah Wigfall, 3, and Zakayah Wigfall, 1, at the Kmart in North Augusta Thursday afternoon December 24, 2009.

At the North Augusta K-Mart store, crowds of people milled through the aisles looking at toys and Christmas decorations, then making purchases for the holiday.

Cheriatta Thurmond was one of these shoppers, buying gifts for extended relatives on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s crazy out here,” she said.

Ms. Thurmond said she had been busy earlier in the day with cleaning the house and getting ready for family festivities for Christmas Day.

“It’s been hectic, but I’m trying to wrap everything up,” she added.

Tiffany Rollins said that she was at K-Mart filling in gaps of her Christmas shopping list.

“I forgot three,” she said. “I’ve had everything else done for over a week.”

Ms. Rollins said she had never shopped on Christmas Eve before.

Such holiday delays are gradually increasing.

The National Retail Federation published a report Dec. 16 stating that the average American had completed 46.7 percent of his or her Christmas shopping by mid-month, compared to 47.1 percent completed by this time last year.

This year’s percentage is the lowest since 2004, when the average person had completed 46.3 percent of his or her shopping by that time.

Then there are the hard-core procrasinators

The report also said 19.1 percent of American shoppers had not even started their Christmas shopping by Dec. 16, and 11.9 percent of shoppers said they would buy their last gift Dec. 24.

That 11.9 percent included Celestine El, who was doing all of her shopping on Christmas Eve.

“I’m not done at all,” she said on Thursday afternoon.

Ms. El said she waited to shop because of her work schedule.

The report from NRF predicted a decline in holiday sales from last year of 1.0 percent. It also said that fewer people have used credit cards as a payment option this year, 30.9 percent this year as compared to last year’s 33.8 percent.

“Shoppers have shown tremendous restraint in buying gifts with the money they already have, not the money they hope to have,” Phil Rist said in the NRF report. Mr. Rist is the executive vice president of Strategic Initiatives and BIGresearch, a consumer market intelligence firm.


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