Time was running out.
Only a few days before Christmas, and Greenwood Park Mall was filled with customers. People carrying loads of bags moved from store to store, taking their time and picking out gifts for everyone on their lists.
Some were looking for the final gifts to cross off their lists. Others were getting all of their shopping done in one fell swoop.
But despite the ever-shrinking time to buy gifts, no one seemed harried or frazzled doing their shopping. There was even an atmosphere of enjoyment throughout the mall.
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“I wasn’t really worried about it being too crowded,” said Justin Lewis of Seymour. “I was here last weekend, and it was pretty packed. It’s not too bad during the week.”
Lewis and Jacqueline Gibson were taking a break from shopping at the mall, waiting for others in their group to come out of a store. They had most of the items bought for people on their lists, but needed to take care of a few loose ends.
“We’re just finishing up a couple of things, and then we’re done,” Lewis said.
According to the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest trade association and provider of shopping-related research, only 55 percent of the people surveyed across the U.S. had finished their holiday shopping by Dec. 20.
The survey found that 53 percent of people planned to shop today, known as “Super Saturday” for being the last Saturday before Christmas.
Another 6 percent were expected to be buying gifts on Christmas Eve. And 5 percent of those surveyed said they’d still be shopping for some people, even after Dec. 25.
Rob Soncrant had come to the Greenwood Park Mall from Linton on Wednesday to finish shopping with his wife on their day off. They had a successful trip, finding a number of the presents their loved ones had asked for.
They weren’t deterred by the prospect of battling the crowds, and were pleasantly surprised to find the mall relatively easy to navigate.
“I thought it would be about like this. Maybe closer to the weekend, it’ll get worse,” Soncrant said.
The late shopping push was evident at retail centers all over Johnson County. People were packed in stores browsing the shelves and racks for the perfect gift. Large shopping centers, such as the one in Franklin housing Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less, were bustling with customers.
In downtown Franklin, stores such as Farm Girl Mercantile and Marshmallow Monkey had people poking around for perfect gifts. The past two weeks have been steadily more busy, and the days leading up to Christmas have seen an increase of customers, said Tracy Bohler, owner of Farm Girl Mercantile.
The unusually warm temperatures have only helped.
“The weather has been the best factor I think,” Bohler said. “Beautiful December days are made for walking and shopping in Franklin.”
But the epicenter of Christmas shopping locally was at Greenwood Park Mall. Holiday shopping had been steady at the mall all season, with the busiest times coming on Black Friday to this point, said David Dawson, director of marketing and business development at Greenwood Park Mall.
This weekend was expected to be just as busy, he said.
The Greenwood Park Mall and Edinburgh Premium Outlets both had expanded hours as the holiday grew near. In Greenwood today, the mall opened at 8 a.m. and would keep serving customers until 11 p.m. Even on Christmas Eve, the mall would be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Providing expanded hours is a chance to cater to shoppers wrapping up their last-minute shopping, Dawson said.
“We have the best retailer mix on the south side of Indianapolis to help shoppers get everything they need for everyone left on their list, all in once place,” he said. “They can come, park, find great gifts while staying indoors and warm and be done all in one stop.”
When holiday shoppers purchased or planned to purchase their last gift
Before Dec. 18: 34 percent
Dec.18 to 22: 39 percent
Dec. 23: 16 percent
Dec. 24: 6 percent
Dec. 25: .3 percent
After Dec. 25: 5 percent
— Information from the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Consumer Holiday Survey