From stocking stuffers to perfume, the last-minute shoppers will be out in force Saturday, according to retail staffers.
Stores often start stocking the shelves with Christmas goodies a couple of months ahead of time. But last-minute shoppers waiting until Dec. 24 to shop, many of them men, is as predictable as Christmas falling on Dec. 25, according to Mark Shone, the store team leader for Target in Jacksonville.
Christmas Eve is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Shone said, almost as big as Black Friday.
“It’s a fun business to be in this time of year,” he said.
This year, Hatchimals are the biggest hit in toys, Shone said. Every morning parents line up outside the doors, waiting to see if the trucks brought any more of the eggs holding a surprise stuffed animal that “hatches” by pecking at the egg like a bird.
Because of their popularity, Shone said a limit of two per guest was put on the toy. By 10 a.m. Friday, he’d already had four people come into the store asking if there were any left. There weren’t.
On Friday morning, Target associates in Christmas-and-Target-red tops were pushing boxes out from the back and loading up the store shelves.
Shone said they were “purging” the back and bringing up all of the toys, small appliances and seasonal items in preparation for shoppers. Saturday, Target will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Christmas trees are 50 percent off for people who are really cutting it close or for those looking to buy for next season.
Wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and gift bags are another big hit item on Christmas Eve for parents who have the gifts but still need to wrap them and, Shone said, men who come in with full shopping lists but nothing checked off of them.
There are always a lot of men, he said, laughing.
Brad Shook said he sees the same thing each year at Belk.
The store manager at Jacksonville’s Belk, Shook said this is his 25th year working in retail at Christmas — and seeing guys “panicked” on Christmas Eve.
By far, fragrance will be the busiest section, he said. They’ve even created make-your-own box sets for the fragrance section, with a pretty bow around the box ready to go.
“Most of the ladies bought half-way through the year,” Shook said.
Shook laughed and said it wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t in the same position.
“I’ll be one of the people out (shopping),” he said.
Many people believe stores are picked clean by Christmas Eve, but Shook said Belk still has plenty of product and a lot of deals.
Belk will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and have their boots on sale 50-to-70 percent off, Harry & David candy and popcorn gifts half off, up to 50 percent off luggage and a coupon for $10 off $40, Shook said.
For the smaller, stocking-stuffer-sized gifts, 2nd and Charles will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday with $10 headphones, $5 games for the family, buy three get one free on DVDs, CDs, and Blu-ray discs, and 50 percent extra store credit for those trading in video games, Buying Manager Charles Benefield said.
It’s a great place for those on a budget looking for gifts at a good price, Benefield said.
The store is also a great place when you need a break, he added.
“We’re a good place for when you just don’t want to be home,” Benefield said.