Christmas rush without too much fuss

 

Customers stand in line in the children’s department at JC Penney in the Dover Mall on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Shoppers who found themselves waiting until the last minute to complete their Christmas shopping found they were far from alone on a day of retail that was dubbed “Super Saturday.”

In fact, a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 53 percent of consumers — about 126 million people — had planned to shop this weekend in hopes of fulfilling those wishes and stuffing those stockings.

The NRF predicted holiday sales would increase 4 percent this year over last, to $682 billion,

Ashley Thomas, general manager of the JC Penney department store in the Dover Mall, said she has noticed increased traffic this holiday season.

“This is the second highest peak in retail,” Ms. Thomas said. “Black Friday is first — it’s like our pinnacle — but Christmas we give unprecedented values for our guests.

“We’ve got the last-minute shoppers coming in and the next two days literally will be the last big push of the year.”

Ms. Thomas laughed and joked that many frazzled men were coming into JC Penney is search of last-minute jewelry while women were rushing to Sephora for their cosmetic needs.

“A lot of guests that come in, they already know what they’re looking for and know what they want,” she said, “but these are the times where we can capitalize on the traffic and really help them find what they need and make them a shopper who will want to come back to us later.

Antonio Anazlone helps customers in the jewelry department at JC Penney in the Dover Mall on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery(

“It’s been fantastic. We definitely feel like we’re on the up-and-up. Traffic has been really good in the store, the (Central Delaware) Chamber of Commerce is now our partners so they have been helping us out, giving us some advertising in the local community and sales are looking up.”

The NRF had a breakdown of what consumers are buying this holiday season, including: clothing or clothing accessories (54 percent); toys (39 percent); gift cards (39 percent); books, movies and other media (35 percent); consumer electronics or computer-related accessories (25 percent) and food or candy (25 percent).

Many consumers are making those purchases this weekend, as a nearly full parking lot at the Dover Mall could attest on Saturday afternoon.

“Even though many consumers got a head start with holiday shopping early in the season, millions more are leaving their gift buying to the last minute and beyond,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release.

Edward Wright, who works in the suit department at JC Penney in Dover, said that when it comes to shopping deadlines, people involved in retail have to assume dual roles as both pseudo-therapist and salesman.

“It can be pretty busy but we get it done for them,” Mr. Wright said. “A lot of people don’t understand that your role is more than being a salesman. You also have to have that personal relationship with them and know exactly what they want.

Sara Butcher helps a man in the jewelry department at JC Penney in the Dover Mall on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Once you zone into what they want then everything works out fine.”

John Hobbs, of Petersburg, was one of the many shoppers who couldn’t believe that Christmas bells will be ringing on Monday.

“I’m just out taking care of some last-minute details,” said Mr. Hobbs. “I’ve been working a lot and time just flies by. It hasn’t been bad (shopping) at all, it’s great. I got a watch for my son and I’m still looking for something else.”

Terri Thomas, of Lincoln, said it seems like every year she experiences a little bit of déjà vu around the holidays.

“I always tell myself that I’m not going to wait until the last minute to shop again next year,” she said. “Then, here I am, waiting in a long line at a cash register when I could be home relaxing.

“Believe me, one of these years I’m going to get it right.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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