holiday shopping

Bay Area Stores Packed With Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

NBC Universal, Inc.

Stores in downtown Walnut Creek were bustling Friday with people finishing up their last-minute holiday shopping.

Central streets were full of traffic, parking spaces were hard to come by, and many shoppers brought along their pets decked out in festive holiday sweaters.

"I wanna come in to get some Christmas spirit while I spend some money," said Chris Mann of Fairfax as he picked up gifts for his family at the stores in Walnut Creek.

Mann admitted that his decision to shop on Christmas Eve was a matter of "complete procrastination and feeling guilty that I hadn’t spent enough money, so I came here and it was easy to find stuff."

The National Retail Federation expects that holiday shopping will rebound this year, noting that sales could exceed last year's holiday sales by as much as 11.5%.

While many shoppers feared that the supply chain crisis this year would impact their holiday gift buying, all of the dozens of shoppers who spoke with NBC Bay Area Friday said they were able to find all the gifts on their lists this year.

Chalon Rogers of West Sacramento was in the Bay Area visiting family. She dropped by Walnut Creek to find a few final gifts she'd forgotten about.

Rogers said, after this past year, her family has been "just trying to be smarter shoppers.

"I think that’s what the supply chain issue has taught us is to be smarter shoppers," she said.

She also noted that she is looking for more practical gifts this year.

Some shoppers said they were shopping to celebrate the chance to spend the holidays with family after having to be apart the year before.

"This year we get to all be together because we’re all triple vaxxed," said Regina Louise of Walnut Creek.

Louise was out shopping for very specific items for her children.

“[My] son that asks for a PlayStation 5, he is 35 years old," she said. "Do you hear me? Thirty-five years old."

"And he asked for a PlayStation 5, and guess what? I got it," Louise grinned proudly.

For some shoppers like Phillip Saddler and his daughter Ava, shopping on Christmas Eve is part of a family tradition. Saddler said he likes the holiday bustle and goes shopping exclusively on Christmas Eve each year.

"Today, we’re shopping for mommy. Ava gets to pick out what she wants for her mom and I get to write the check," Saddler laughed.

Some shoppers reported seeing stressed-out customers and retail staff.

To anyone braving the stores in person this time of year, shopper Chris Mann offers this advice: "Have a great holiday. Be patient with everybody. Everybody just wants to be understood and loved."

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