Retailers banking on last-minute shoppers

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Shoppers are out in full force on this Christmas Eve, rushing to pick out one more gift or one last ingredient for holiday meals. Some stores that don't usually operate 24/7 have been open for more than 24 hours straight catering to last-minute shoppers.

The Toys R Us in Sugar House has been open since Tuesday morning and will stay open until 9 p.m. Friday. People who shopped there overnight say they like avoiding long lines, though they know they're cutting it close. For some, shopping at 2 a.m. worked better with their schedules.


"You get in and out. If it wasn't open we'd have to wait in line forever and ever and ever," said a shopper named Toni. "We've bought a couple of things, but this is a last-minute thing."

Amanda said, "It's nice just to get in and get out and not have to fight everybody for stuff. And the shelves actually had stuff on them."

Later Friday morning, Paul Anderson said he was looking for "mostly just last-minute, small things for the grandkids."

Anna Quintero and Kaci Walters told KSL, "We still have to hit a few stores. We're not done. We came at 6:00 to beat the crowds because everywhere is going to be crowded today."

A part of the 2011 economic story is being written right now, and (it's) a little bit better than what we've seen in a couple of years.

–Michael McNamara

The all-night hours are positive signs for retailers. Consumer Reports says Americans plan to spend an average of 15 hours on gift shopping. Retailers hope longer store hours may boost spending in stores and online. E-commerce was more popular than ever this year; sales jumped nearly 15 and a half percent.

Michael McNamara of MasterCard Advisors said, "A part of the 2011 economic story is really being written right now, and the story is a little bit better than what we've seen in a couple of years."

ShopperTrak reported earlier this week that nationally retail revenue was up 5.5 percent during the last weekend before Christmas, a drastic improvement from the same weekend last year when a storm in the east closed some malls.

Old Navy also is pulling an all-nighter. The store opened Thursday at 7 a.m. and will remain open for 36 hours straight. Many more stores will open the day after Christmas for even more sales.

Grocery stores are also popular today as people pick up a few last items for holiday meals.

Bob Delacruz said,"Just stuff for tomorrow's breakfast - eggs, bacon - just the last-minute stuff you think about while you're in your sleep."

Many Utahns who aren't shopping are traveling. Sisters Grace and Rachel Claudius anxiously waited for their flight to Kansas City, Mo., so they could spend the holidays with loved ones.

"I'm just really excited to see all of my old friends," Grace said. "I haven't seen them in a year, so it'll be exciting to see them again."

Rachel added, "We'll get in late but just in time for Christmas."


Story written with contributions from Anne Forester , Randall Jeppesen and The Associated Press.

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