Cool and calm, Southern Highlands resident Shelly Wakefield breezed through the Galleria at Sunset.
The thirty-something blonde moved from store to store effortlessly, grabbing gifts for friends and family. By the laid-back way she shopped, you’d never know it was two days until Christmas.
At Old Navy, Wakefield snapped up socks and sweaters before moving on to See’s Candies to stock up on confectioneries for her loved ones’ stockings.
“I don’t like Christmas shopping,” Wakefield declared. “So, I like to do it in one or two days.”
Everyone on her list will receive something from this shopping trip or the one she planned to take to Town Square late Friday afternoon. Only her parents will receive an item bought last week from Cost Plus World Market.
Seemingly, Wakefield isn’t alone in her last-minute shopping quest.
“We’re still seeing really great traffic,” said Janet LaFevre, group marketing manager for General Growth Properties.
LaFevre said each of the company’s malls are expecting strong traffic numbers through close of day on Christmas Eve. General Growth owns five properties in Las Vegas: Meadows mall, Boulevard and Fashion Show malls, the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and the Shoppes at Palazzo.
A recent survey by Visa — conducted the weekend before Christmas — showed LaFevre’s expectations are justified. The survey suggested that about 77 percent of consumers hadn’t finished their holiday shopping and still need to buy gifts before Christmas. These last-minute shoppers are expected to spend an average of $278 in the final days leading up to Christmas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 100 million households in the United States. If 77 percent of them spent an average of $278 on Christmas gifts this week, their total spend would be close to $21.4 billion.
“We’ve seen a lot of shoppers shopping for themselves,” LaFevre said.
Because of that, many consumers waited until the second half of the holiday shopping season to buy gifts, which may help explain the high percentage of people who still need to buy for family and friends.
“There’s been a lot of frugality fatigue,” LaFevre said. “People are taking advantage of retailers’ deals and retailers have really brought their game to this holiday season.”
Newspaper advertising, email blasts, social media posts, television spots and website banners all help retailers reel in consumers. And it seems to be working this year.
On Dec. 17, shoppers spent an estimated $26 billion, breaking the previous record of $25 billion they spent in 2007 on the last full Saturday before Christmas, according to consultancy Customer Growth Partners. The amount was just shy of the $27 billion shoppers spent on Black Friday, the firm said.
Thus far, LaFevre said sales and traffic have been strong throughout the holiday season, which is consistent with a full year of strong retail metrics for General Growth Properties in Southern Nevada.
With one-third of all holiday sales expected to be posted the week leading up to Christmas, according to mall-traffic tracker ShopperTrak, some retailers are staying open late on Dec. 24.
Toys R Us, for instance, will be open until 10 p.m. Meadows mall, Boulevard and Fashion Show malls are open until 6 p.m. Electronics retailer Best Buy is open until 5 p.m. and Target is open until 9 p.m.
At Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry inside the Best in the West shopping center, customers, mostly men were parading in and out of the store. Sal Moya was headed in to buy a gift for his wife.
“I’m really in a hurry because I’m last- minute,” Moya said.
And, because he was headed home to Denver to see his family for Christmas. Like Wakefield, Moya was doing all his shopping the final week before the holiday.
If you, too, still need to shop, General Growth’s LaFevre has some advice.
“You’ll want to take advantage of the early openings on Saturday. And be patient. There are many people that will be shopping,” she said.
You’ll also want to watch your pocketbook.
Jason Alderman, Visa’s senior director of global financial education, said when shoppers panic, they often overspend.
The survey data show that 13 percent of consumers were planning to purchase all of their gifts the week leading up to Christmas. Eight percent were expected to buy three quarters of their gifts, and 16 percent would purchase half of their gifts. Fifty-one percent of consumers were expected to purchase a quarter of their gifts this week.
If you have to still buy something, make sure to stick to your budget and avoid panic spending. Visa suggests households spend no more than 1.5 percent of their annual income on holiday expenses. Then, create a specific spending limit for each person on your list.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at
email@example.com or 702-380-4588.