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Derryl Glaze was calm and relaxed by 1:30 p.m. Christmas Eve day -- a good 19 hours before his wife would be opening the gifts he had just bought and had wrapped.
"To me, I am in panic mode, so I get everything done," said Mr. Glaze who was among the last-minute Christmas shoppers at Westfield Franklin Park.
It's an unofficial tradition for him to purposely wait until the last possible day to get those final gifts. Mr. Glaze said it's easier than battling traffic and mobs of people in the days leading up to Christmas.
"There are not a lot of people here," he said. "My presents are already wrapped and if you look around, it's usually guys here throughout the day."
Procrastinators ruled the roadways and store aisles yesterday. Some seemed focused like lasers -- darting inside stores such as Gap or Ann Taylor, buying a sweater, and rushing right out. Others meandered around places including the mall, Meijer, Target, or Barnes & Noble, browsing with a watchful eye on the time because reaching closing without those purchases would mean no gifts under the tree.
Susan Billmaier, a Toledo-area native who now lives in New Jersey, was sitting peacefully in the food court at the mall in west Toledo, denying she was any kind of Christmas procrastinator.
Instead, she made the long drive from New Jersey with her car loaded with gifts. So her purchases yesterday were all for her. But then she remembered a small gift set from Sephora sitting on the table in front of her. That was a gift.
"And oh, I went to Lowe's," Ms. Billmaier then recalled. "OK, I am a last-minute shopper."
The Lowe's gift is for her father, who won't get it until Monday, so it'll be a secret until then.
Hours were not extended at Toledo-area shopping centers such as Westfield Franklin Park, which closed at 6 p.m.
Alan Gaston, who was waiting for the gifts for his adult sons to be wrapped, admitted he shops on Christmas Eve day every year. "I am a huge procrastinator," he said with a chuckle. "But it is not as bad today as it has been the last couple of days."
Gift cards were the procrastinator's ultimate gift. Lines formed at the mall for its gift cards.
At nearby Biggby Coffee at 4204 Sylvania Ave., barista Ragan Shaffer said droves of people came into the store for the little plastic cards, which also make great stocking stuffers.
The Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg is usually open until 9 p.m. on Saturdays, but most stores there were closed by 4 p.m. However, Books-A-Million at the outdoor shopping complex was open until 8 p.m.
Phil Keck, manager, said customer traffic slowed on Christmas Eve after two days of mobs rushing in to get gifts.
"It kind of felt like people took care of it Thursday and Friday, when we got hit the hardest," Mr. Keck said.
Sometimes procrastinating pays off. Retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch at the mall offered deep discounts -- 50 percent off all items -- and J. Crew cut prices by 30 percent for last-minute shoppers.
Toys R Us stores were jammed. The toy giant had last-minute deals the past few days that included "buy one, get one half off" specials on items including Lego construction sets and Crayola products.
Area Target stores opened at 7 a.m. and stayed open an extra two hours until 9 p.m. to accommodate last-minute shoppers. The store at 5225 Monroe St, was busy yesterday but not mobbed.
Kmart stores stayed open Christmas Eve until 10 p.m. because of consumer demand, and Walgreen and CVS stores that are usually open 24 hours stayed open 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
The later hours worked well for many procrastinators. A poll conducted by the magazine Consumer Reports, found that as of Dec. 18, 25 percent of people had not started shopping for the holiday. The poll also said 25 percent of adults who still have shopping to do plan to do so on Christmas Eve.
Jeff Watts of West Toledo said he was happy to be one of the last-minute shoppers. With his three boys, ages 12, 11, and 7, Mr. Watts was strolling out of Westfield Franklin Park before 1 p.m. with just a few "odds and ends" that included lotion for his wife, and he was all set for a merry Christmas.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.