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Last-Minute Shoppers Scramble; Stores, Malls Close Early Christmas Eve

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Christmas is less than a day away. But apparently many people are not finished shopping.

Local stores were crowded Wednesday with people making a last-minute dash to get something under the tree.

Unlike people who have their holiday shopping under way around Thanksgiving, the day-before-Christmas shoppers did not seem as prepared. They looked ready to take just about anything.

"We do a lot of impulse shopping," said local merchant Phillip Tan.

Many of the stores, meanwhile, were prepared to close early on Christmas Eve, forcing the last-minute shoppers to quickly decide what they wanted.

The Wal-Mart in Cary, which was crowded Wednesday morning, closes at 6 p.m. Wednesday -- even though a sign on the door said the store is open until midnight.

Area malls, the Triangle Town Center in Raleigh, Cary Towne Center, Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, and the Streets at Southpoint in Durham all close at 6 p.m. as well.

If Wednesday's shoppers do not know what they are looking for, merchants like Tan are looking for them.

"We have special deals going on these two days," Tan told a customer.

He sold a misting decorative lamp, telling the customer it was good for "smell and relaxation."

Because of last-minute shoppers, Tan and other merchants expect to sell out.

The payoff for last-minute shoppers is that they could end up paying less than the Thanksgiving-time shoppers.

"If you want to look for a good deal, sometimes it's good to wait for the end," Tan said. "If places have a couple of a product left, they'll let it go for quite a good price."

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