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Last minute shoppers fill Santa Maria stores on Christmas Eve

Last minute Christmas Eve shopping
Last minute shoppers filled Santa Maria stores and retail centers on a busy Christmas Eve around the city (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Tuesday marked the the final countdown for Christmas shoppers.

It was their last chance to fill out their shopping list before time ran out.

In Santa Maria, shoppers flocked to stores and retail centers all day long.

"Very stressed," said Toka Hartman-Kuma outside Target. "Very stressed waiting until that last minute."

The Nipomo resident came to Target looking to purchase pajamas.

Even though she was successful with her gift hunt, she pointed that people waiting until the last minute could end up disappointed.

"Shelves are being emptied, so if you're looking for something in particular, you might not find it," Hartman-Kuma said.

While shelves may have been empty, the same can't be said of roadways and parking lots.

"The traffic is pretty gnarly right now and the traffic is intense and parking is hard to get," said Yvette Mediano outside Kohl's.

Over the the Crossroads Center, shopper Prentice Craig agreed. He said he had visited San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Santa Maria looking to purchase a gift for his wife.

"The roads are crazy," Craig said. "You really have to have your eye out. People are trying to get their destination and they're not paying attention."

For many people, shopping on Christmas Eve is an annual tradition.

"It's a thrill, I guess," said Jerson San Juan, while waiting for a gift to wrapped in the Town Center Mall. "I know it gets a little crazy because everyone is shopping, but we're used to it."

While many enjoy the hustle and bustle of last minute shopping, not to mention the pressure that goes along with it, not everyone enjoys the experience.

"When you see all the cars in the parking lot, you're just hesitant on going in, but on a day like this, you have no choice," said Craig outside Dick's Sporting Goods.

Even though most agreed it was a stressful time to be out in the stores, people said there was a definite holiday spirit in the air.

"It's fun to be out here," said Juliza Hernandez while shopping in the Town Center Mall. "Everybody seems to be in a really good mood and they're happy. Everybody is saying Merry Christmas. I see some Christmas sweaters out, some ugly Christmas sweaters and everybody seems to be in a really good mood and everybody seems to be on a mission."

As for business, it seems like this is shaping up to be a solid season.

Mall management said sales were strong.

At Sportscard Fantasys, longtime store owner Curt Miller was happy with how the season was shaping up.

"Doing good," said Miller. " I can't complain, really good. Started off a little slow this month, but it's picked up real strong as it usually does, so we're doing good."

Over at Sears, this represents the final Christmas for the venerable retailer, which has anchored the mall since it opened in the more than 40 years ago.

"I'm not happy it's closing," said Susan Mohammed. "I like Sears. It's been here."

While many are disappointed to see the store close, they were happy to take advantage of deep discounts its offering.

"Got this for $10," said Mohammed, holding up a fanny pack. "Good deal. Then I wanted a wallet and I got a wallet for a dollar something, so I'm good to go."

Sears is scheduled to close sometime in February.

Article Topic Follows: Holidays
christmas eve
town center mall

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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