Local News

Monday, Dec 24 2012 02:49 PM

Last-minute Christmas shoppers pack mall

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Tim Hayden carries his daughter Michelle on his shoulders as he and his family including his wife Tina and daughter Katlyn, not pictured, pickup a few small items at Valley Plaza on the last day of shopping before Christmas.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    From left, Brandon McNamee, and Blair and Taylor Lafond do some last day shopping at Valley Plaza on the day before Christmas.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Rosanna Quintero didn't plan on shopping on the day before Christmas but she was in Valley Plaza on Monday.

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BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

Rosanna Quintero had a slew of Christmas of gifts to buy:

* boots for her mom;

* an outfit for her son;

* a sweater for her brother;

* and a scarf for her sister.

And she bought them all the day before Christmas.

"There were long lines," said Quintero, 27. "It was horrible. But that's what we get for waiting until the last minute."

Quintero was shopping with her brother and son at Valley Plaza mall on Monday afternoon. They weren't alone.

Valley Plaza was teeming with shoppers rushing down the halls, in and out of stores, looking to check off the last items on their Christmas shopping lists with just hours to go. Security guards roamed the mall making sure the chaos didn't get too out of control. A line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot extended down Ming Avenue.

Nationwide, about 17 million people waited until Monday to do their Christmas shopping, Consumer Reports estimated in a survey released Thursday. Last-minute shoppers planned to buy smaller items, according to the report, with the top three gifts they planned to give being gift cards, cash or a bottle of wine or liquor.

At Valley Plaza, Sharri Rivera, 49, was with her daughter Kassandra, 19, buying gifts for her other daughter. The family normally gets all its shopping done by the after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, Sharri Rivera said. But this year, she was busy working, and her husband was sick.

The family won't be waiting until the last minute again, she said.

"It's more hectic and hard," Kassandra Rivera said. "We weren't sure if what we wanted was going to be in stock."

Waiting to shop did have some benefits. Kassandra bought her sister of pair of pants for $30 that she said would have cost $40 last week.

Final exams consumed the weeks before Christmas for Brandon Mcnamee, 18, his girlfriend, Blair Lafond, 17, and her twin sister, Taylor Lafond. So they had to wait until the few days before Christmas to shop, they said.

"We're procrastinators," Blair Lafond said.

Their Monday shopping trip was all about gifts for others. The only thing they got themselves was some Starbucks coffee to stay energized for their mission, Taylor Lafond said.

Monday was the third day in a row they went to Valley Plaza to find gifts. The mall was not as busy Monday as it was Sunday, they said. In fact, the mall was so crowded Sunday, Mcnamee got into a car accident in the parking lot, he said.

Of Monday's relative calmness, Taylor Lafond said, "People are getting ready for family and parties."

Quintero, the 27-year-old who was with her brother and son, had to rush to Valley Plaza right after she got off work at 10 a.m. Monday in order to get her shopping done.

She said next year she hopes to have her Christmas shopping done by September or October. Getting 50 percent off on a couple of items was not worth the crowding and the chaos, she said.

"I was thinking people would be home," she said. "But, no."

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