Last minute shoppers pack Bay Area stores

SAN JOSE, Calif.

From the long lines at the checkout stands to the volume of cars pulling into the mall, it was clear that there was a lot of last-minute shopping underway on Monday.

"I just found out yesterday that Christmas is tomorrow, so I've got a little shopping to do," last minute shopper Steve Corelis in jest.

Joke or not, it's true that men are the predominant shoppers in the final hours of Christmas Eve.

"Are you giving me a hard time for waiting until the last minute," San Jose resident Craig Heitkam asked.

Last minute shoppers are the frosting on the cake for retailers. Analysts are projecting holiday sales will be 2.5 to 3 percent above last year -- not bad considering the recession isn't over and there's uncertainty about the fiscal cliff.

The biggest uncertainty, sometimes, is what to buy. One shopper was clutching two plush Sesame Street Elmo toys while continuing to scan the shelves for something better.

"I'm trying to figure out what to get a 3-year-old; that's the hardest thing because you can't buy things that are too intricate," Long Le said.

Surprisingly, there were more than a few children roaming the toy aisles Monday. Maybe it was a strategy to see which toys attract their interest and attention. Santa can always use some hints and feedback.

"They played and played and played; he had a wonderful time, and they put it all back on the shelves and walked away," Brenda Patterson said.

Last-minute shoppers can also brag that they're getting Christmas Eve mark-downs. Some stores were offering discounts of 25-40 percent.

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