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Get in Line: Last-Minute Shopping, Mailing in Full Swing

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Shoppers crowded into this Cary store Friday, rushing their Christmas plans to completion.(WRAL-TV5 News)
RALEIGH — A steady stream of holiday procrastinators are keeping retailers on their toes. But with two shopping days left until Christmas, merchants warn that the last-minute crowds and craziness could still be just around the corner.

From grocery stores to malls to the post office, shoppers are busy taking care of last-minute business.

National shopping figures show the holidays sneak up people more than they would like to admit.

Eighty-one percent all of holiday retail sales take place in December. Those numbers grow as Christmas draws near, with nearly half of shoppers waiting until two weeks before Christmas.

As shoppers put the finishing touches on their Christmas giving, stores sent in reinforcements of cashiers and stockers. Store managers screamed as new lanes opened, hoping to shorten the long lines.

Rick Smith of Fuquay-Varina has Christmas and birthday presents to buy for his 2-year-old. He surveyed what was left of the picked-over merchandise at a Cary department store.

"I got an early start this morning, so I feel like I'm ahead of the game a little bit," he says. "But still, I'll be ready to leave the store."

Store managers are expecting even longer lines over the Christmas weekend. Holiday Mail:The rush is on at the U. S. Postal Service -- in front ofandbehind the counter.

While people are still mailing at the last minute, sorters are working to the last moment to get everything out by Christmas.

The main post office in Fayetteville broke a record Monday night, processing nearly 1 million pieces of mail. Dan Davidson, the plant manager at the post office, says that e-mail has not made a dent in the volume of mail being sent.

So what should you do if you're staring at that letter or package that you need to get somewhere in a hurry? Your procrastination will cost you.
  • ThePost Officewill do its best to deliver Express Mail before Monday if you mail it by noon Saturday.
  • FedExExpress, which is not ground delivery, will have normal dropoffs Saturday. Only Priority Overnight packages will be delivered Sunday.
  • UPSwill deliver SonicAir packages on Sunday if they are sent by Saturday.
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