Last-minute shoppers keep retailers busy on Christmas Eve

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hundreds of last-minute shoppers hit the stores Christmas Eve looking for the perfect gift. Retailers say it’s not typically the busiest day of the year, but it can get pretty crowded.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, about 30 percent of shoppers wait until mid to late December to buy gifts. Some of justify it, saying they’re waiting for a good deal, but one in five just admit they’re a procrastinator.

“Every year you think you’re going to do better,” said City Creek Center shopper Ryan Jump. “But yeah, every year it seems like we’re waiting until the day before.”

Managers at the City Creek Center say the majority of their crowds came in the morning then things slowed down throughout the day. It’s not their busiest day of the holiday season, but one they count on to round out retail numbers.

“We’ve been so excited to greet people both from Salt Lake City, from the intermountain west region, and really visitors from all over the world,” said City Creek Center general manager Linda Wardell. “We think this has probably been our busiest season ever, and we’re very excited about that.”

Last-minute shopping is the end to a season that started slow according to the US Census Bureau. Their November retail report showed sales climbed only 0.2 percent month-over-month. Economists were hoping for something closer to 0.3 percent.

Some of the slowing seems to be due to online spending, which saw some growth, but Wardell said it hasn’t seemed to affect spending at the mall. In fact, she said online shopping has complimented brick and mortar shopping.

“They’re online while they’re here, they’re price comparing, they’re doing a little more research,” Wardell said. “They’ve seen a product they like one place, then they want to check on it in another store, and see if they have a complimentary product.”

One area that could make a big difference is with gift cards. Economists say those sales aren’t added to retail figures until the card is redeemed, but that doesn’t happen until after Christmas.