Last-minute shoppers on retailers' wish lists

Posted December 23, 2009 2:22 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2009 4:48 p.m. EST

— Area malls were crowded Wednesday with last-minute holiday shoppers, as many people sought deals to finish off their Christmas shopping lists.

Some retailers said they were counting on a late surge of shoppers Wednesday and Thursday, noting sales are down by a large margin from previous years. Others said they aren't struggling as much as they thought they would.

"Everybody has slowed down compared with what they were spending last year, no doubt about it, but I think it will be OK," said Dean Sadarangani, who owns Dean's Jewels & Gifts in Triangle Town Center. "We have two days to go. That's going to make it or break it."

Debbie Jones, who works at The Spa by Mitchell's at the mall, said this season is slower than years past, but it hasn't produced a major hit to the spa's business.

"I think people postponed the early shopping," Jones said. "We have seen maybe less charge (sales, and) more cash this year."

The National Retail Federation predicts overall holiday sales will be down about 1 percent from last year.

Some shoppers said they had cut their holiday spending drastically, while others said they hunted for bargains to limit their spending.

"We haven't shopped as much as we normally do, and the lines have not been as long as they normally are, but we've shopped," Donna Currie said.

Shopper Kelly Crain said she didn't cut back, but she noticed some differences at the mall.

"What I found was there wasn't a lot as far as choices on things. I think the stores didn't stock as much stuff this year," Crain said.

Area malls planned to stay open until 10 p.m. Wednesday and open early Thursday to attract as many shoppers as possible during the final hours before Christmas. Triangle Town Center will open at 7 a.m. Thursday, Streets at Southpoint at 8 a.m. and Crabtree Valley at 9 a.m. All three will close at 6 p.m. Thursday.