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Last-minute shoppers scramble to fulfill Christmas lists

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 10:19 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Tammy Rosenberger, of New Kensington, loads last-minute gifts into her vehicle after shopping at Kmart in New Kensington on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Bethany Connor, of Monroeville, hoists a last-minute gift into her car while shopping with her mother, Jacie Connor, of Upper Burrell, at Walmart in the Pittsburgh Mills shopping complex in Frazer on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.

Two days before Christmas, Darleen Barker was at Best Buy at the Pittsburgh Mills mall, still on the hunt for the Disney Infinity game for the Nintendo Wii.

After another unsuccessful quest to find one of this year's hottest items, she settled for an Apple iHome alarm clock.

Though this year she wanted a specific item, Barker of New Kensington admitted that she's a habitual last-minute Christmas shopper.

“Unfortunately, yes,” she said. “I think with most people, you have to go out at least once. With your work schedule and life, it just catches up fast.”

Best Buy and Wal-Mart in Frazer and Kmart in New Kensington were moderately busy around noon on Monday.

Several shoppers were out picking up groceries for their holiday dinner or other things they need.

Not many customers were pushing carts filled with items that would later be under the tree. But there were a number who were checking that final gift off their list.

Among them were mother and daughter Jacie and Bethany Connor.

“We were getting stocking-stuffers,” said Bethany Connor, of Monroeville, who picked up a gift for her boyfriend.

“I work a lot, so I do last-minute shopping,” she said. “I think I'm done now.”

According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper had completed half of their shopping by Dec. 9, while 14 percent, about 32 million, said they hadn't started.

Amy Brenner, of Creighton, East Deer was shopping at Wal-Mart, and said she was surprised the big box store wasn't clogged with more shoppers.

Apparently, most people did their shopping Saturday, when retailers were offering the type of discounts and sales not seen since 2008, according to a Bloomberg News report.

It helped make the day the busiest shopping day ever, with more than $17 billion in sales, according to the report. That's despite steady rain all day.

Brenner said she was out on Monday to search for a gift for her son to replace one that she returned.

“This is it, though; we're done,” she said with a touch of relief. “I'm usually pretty busy; I work two jobs, so I'm forced to do last-minute shopping.”

Anna Mae Salego of Lower Burrell said she enjoys heading out in the days leading up to Christmas.

“It's more fun that way; it makes the holiday,” she said outside of Kmart in New Kensington, where she bought wrapping paper and a large trash can, plus a few other gifts.

Tammy Rosenberger, of New Kensington, was at Kmart. She was shopping for secret Santa gifts for veterans at the H. John Heinz III Progressive Care Center in O'Hara.

“I'm one of those people who believes everyone should have something Christmas morning,” she said. She and her coworkers buy gifts for the veterans each year from wish lists they provide the staff.

“It's clothes today; but others have asked for a fishing rod, gloves or shoes,” Rosenberger said. “One time, one asked for a model ship.”

But she admitted she's as guilty as other shoppers out this week.

“I did some online shopping and am looking for things for my niece and nephew,” Rosenberger said. “I'm wrapping like a fool right now.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702.

or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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