A little more than a week before Christmas and the shoppers were sparse. Very few were carrying bags. The only reason Daly City resident Cody Rodenhuis was at the Serramonte Center was to get a photo of his bulldogs, Ruth and Tank, with Santa Claus.
"Typically, I just rely on Amazon just because of convenience from home and have it shipped directly to me. So I can avoid a lot of the parking congestion and traffic," said Rodenhuis.
According to the market research company, NPD Group, consumers have finished less than half of their shopping, a little behind where they were last year at this time.
Genevieve Agra manages a children's clothing store. She said, "This year it's way slower. Last year it was packed throughout the holiday season. Now it's like really slow."
And with Thanksgiving falling later in November, the shopping season is six days shorter. The result has been a significant uptick for online activity.
"I think the pressure that consumers feel during a shortened selling season results in slightly more emotionality in purchasing and so online is a way for them to feel calmer, more in control," said Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., a consumer psychologist.
Many shoppers still like the thrill of the bargain hunt in a store.
"I do 95 percent in the mall. I work on a computer all day. I don't want to get on a computer in my free time," said Marilyn Razon, a Moss Beach resident.
Stores know most shopping will occur in the final week before Christmas.