Clad in nothing but beige lingerie and scarlet high heels, the supermodel affixed to the Victoria’s Secret storefront at Lakeside Shopping Center wrapped her hands around a large red ribbon above the caption: “All I Want for Christmas Is You!”
The message apparently went unheard.
Droves of last-minute shoppers scurried around the metro area’s most popular mall on Tuesday, snapping up 11th-hour gifts in an annual ritual that intertwines two hallmarks of Americana: commercialism and procrastination.
Whether it was scoping out shiatsu massage chairs at Brookstone, snagging a new iPhone at the Apple store or purchasing a pair of “the ultimate pink yoga leggings” at Victoria’s Secret, late-to-the-game shoppers tried to make up for lost time and capitalize on bargain prices.
Caitlyn, a 15-year-old gift wrapper who declined to provide her last name, said she and her fellow wrappers had gussied up gifts for a steady stream of mallgoers, most of whom shared a couple of characteristics.
“It’s mostly men who are lazy,” she said. “And they are mostly buying purses and stuff from Victoria’s Secret.”
That analysis appeared to be spot-on, as the famous purveyor of undergarments was packed to the gills on Tuesday.
Sheryl Conrad, a Victoria’s Secret sales associate, said the store’s wide array of products and sale prices attracted hordes of shoppers.
“We have the beauty products, we have the gift sets, we have the bras and we have the sex appeal for men and women,” she said.
Conrad said she was mostly helping perplexed men pick out gifts for their significant others, but she noted that women buy gifts for their husbands and boyfriends at the store as well.
“They will just buy some lingerie for themselves, and that will be the gift for their husband,” she said.
While some chronic procrastinators were just starting their Christmas shopping, more of Tuesday’s shoppers were finishing up.
One of them, Kenneth Reimonenq, quizzically examined a stack of perfumes in the store. He said he was looking for a gift for one of his daughters, but that he had done most of his buying already.
“I’m just trying to pick up a few last-minute gifts,” he said. “The things you forget for people at first.”
The same was true for 28-year-old Kory Trosclaire, who had just purchased an old-school shaving kit for his girlfriend’s German grandfather.
Trosclaire said he’d done the bulk of his shopping online, though he had taken advantage of a holiday sale to pick up a couple of cheap T-shirts.
According to Trosclaire, the reason people wait till the bitter end to finish up is fairly obvious.
“Society is pretty lazy,” he said.
Numerous others who work and shop at the mall agreed.
“People are just in a hurry and don’t feel like dealing with it and then will just buy anything, like even something for a dollar or whatever,” said 17-year-old Jasmine Alexander, a clerk at Hot Topic.
Alexander confessed that despite working at the mall, she had yet to begin her Christmas shopping.
As the afternoon turned to early evening, there was a perceptible shift in the shopping demographic: More men arrived.
They darted among the rows of smartphone accessories and huddled in the jewelry stores, some wild-eyed with fear and uncertainty. Sales associates sought to assure them that, with a swipe or two of the credit card, everything would be OK.
Charlotte Kirsch, a beauty adviser at Macy’s with 30 years of retail experience, said she has watched the parade of last-minute shoppers evolve over decades.
“You want to know the truth?” she asked, as a nearby woman in a navy blue coat and big black boots sprayed perfume on two wandering men.
“It used to be that it would be mostly men, but now that more women are working, they shop last-minute as well.”
Kirsch said it’s not just procrastination that leads to late shopping habits, but also the fact that many shoppers are counting on a last paycheck or bonus to fund their gifts.
She said things wouldn’t really get desperate until Christmas Eve.
“Tomorrow around 3 p.m., it will be all men, and they will be looking for wrapped gifts only,” she said.