Malls full of last-minute shoppers

December 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
As of a few days ago, an estimated one-third of Americans still had shopping to do. The malls are ready for procrastinators.

"I'm a little less stressed about the income coming in myself, so hopefully people are feeling that," shopper Lance Archer said. "Plus, a long Christmas season, people get a chance to get into it a bit more often, and we have a couple of days before Christmas, and we're off of work."

But people at Valley Fair in San Jose Friday seemed happy and relaxed, maybe because some shoppers changed their strategy this year.

"We did a lot of online shopping this year, so that alleviated the stress," Katina Woodman said.

Others appear to be on a mission to tote as many shopping bags as they can handle.

Still others are taking breaks to re-energize. The food courts were packed.

But the mood is upbeat.

"Everybody's very jolly in the stores, and it's easy, there's no lines," Margaret Jonasson said.

Last-minute shoppers are getting a break from retailers. The discounts are getting deeper. That could be a sign they need to clear excess inventory. Or, it's a nudge to get shoppers to spend.

"Sweaters are definitely doing better now that it's a bit chillier outside, and electronics always do well, especially since we're in Silicon Valley," Westfield Valley Fair spokesperson Laura Vestal said.

Samuels Jewelers had to call in extra sales people because of a heavy volume of customers. However, the typical sale reflects restraint, rather than extravagance.

"Right now we're probably looking at the mid-range, around $300-$500; we still get a few big pops here and there, but a lot of people are still sticking in around that area right there," Antonio Vazquez said.

The countdown clock to Christmas is ticking away. Valley Fair, along with many other malls, will be closing at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

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