FREEPORT, Maine — There may still be a few shopping days before Christmas, but stores and malls across the Triangle were crowded Friday, and the weekend promises more of the same.
The hunt began outside for Alesia Sanders. "It was very hard finding a parking space, very hard," she said.
Sanders and her daughters found crowds and long lines, but for the most part their trip went smoothly.
Emma and Amelia Barber were not so lucky. Some of the gifts they'd hoped to get were already gone. "A lot of things are getting sold out and missing from the stores now," Amelia said.
The sisters were only about half-way through their list with just three days to go.
For those true procastinators who'd prefer to avoid the crowds, improved shipping logistics mean many online and catalog retailers can still deliver in time for Tuesday. Amazon extended the deadline for one-day shipping until Saturday.
Following Amazon's lead, other retailers are experimenting with regional warehouses to get the product closer to potential customers, said Raj Kumar, a retail partner at A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.
Macy's, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart are testing pilot programs in which stores themselves are utilized as shipping hubs as retailers push for next-day and same-day delivery, he said.
Nationwide, the final retail weekend is expected to yield $34 billion in total sales, accounting for roughly 8 percent of the $400 billion in December sales.
After Christmas, a secondary surge occurs when shoppers rush to return all the gifts that weren't quite right and to spend gift cards.