Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers Out in Force

NJ Spotlight News | December 23, 2013
With days to go before Christmas, shoppers are out looking for deals.

By Dari Kotzker

Talk about last minute. Some shoppers even give their gift list to Santa Claus on short notice. So why do people wait?

“Last minute shopping because I worked all the way up to Friday and now I’m on vacation so this is what I always do,” said Jamal Johnson of Old Bridge.

“As every year, it sneaks up on us really quick. With Thanksgiving late, I think everyone’s running around doing their last minute bargains and shopping,” said Millstone Township resident Mary Schindel.

According to the National Retail Federation, the week before Christmas sales pull in up to 15 to 20 percent of the holiday season overall.

“So the distance between Thanksgiving and Christmas was six fewer days than a year ago, and so what we’re seeing the procrastinators are out in largest volumes over this past weekend, so there’s a final deadline everyone needs to meet,” said founder Bill Martin.

New Jersey also got slammed by two snowstorms in the beginning of the month, so that’s had an impact on small businesses. Jennifer Smit is a business owner in downtown Princeton.

“I think we’re all a little off from the first half of the month, but I think we’re all seeing an influx from the second half, so people are catching up. This is a holiday that people aren’t going to give up on. They’re going to come no matter what,” said Smit, owner of Olsson’s Fine Foods.

The malls didn’t take as big a hit.

“I think they’re the diehards coming out anyway and then you have those that are coming out later because of it. It all evens out,” said Freehold Raceway Mall Senior Marketing Manager Debra Panzarell.

With little time left before Christmas, retailers are offering some super sales and discounts, and customers are taking the bait.

“I think the stores are offering some pretty good sales and a lot of procrastinating which is pretty usual this time of year,” said Yvonne Thomas of Jackson.

“I think if they’re important to shoppers, important to retailers, that’s what inspires people to come out,” Panzarell said.

And some stores like Toys R Us are offering 24-hour shopping in the last days leading up to Christmas. And Toys R Us officials say they have seen an increase in customer traffic and expect that to continue in these last two days before the holiday.

And Bill Martin says that a lot of stores are following the trend of staying open longer hours.

“This makes it convenient for second shifters and third shifters who don’t have a chance to shop during the normal hours, so we’re seeing some input. It’s more of a convenience factor than it is generating additional revenue,” said Martin.

In mid-January, the U.S. Commerce Department will release the sales for December. This will be the initial results on the strength of the holiday season.

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