Chicago shoppers look for last-minute gifts

December 20, 2009 (CHICAGO) With Christmas coming Friday, retailers are hoping for a busy weekend at cash registers.

Armed with their dollars and debit cards, last-minute shoppers hit Chicago area stores and shopping malls on the final weekend before the holiday.

"I'm just looking. I might have missed something. I'm just looking now," shopper Michael Harris said.

At Yorktown shopping center, mall officials were doing what they could to help draw in customers and keep them coming.

"We've had pet night with Santa. We have a hockey signing with the Blackhawks today, and we have Gayle Sayers who will be signing at one of the stores," said Lynette Steinhouser of Yorktown Shopping Center.

Many stores at the suburban shopping center were hoping December would make up for a slow October and November.

"Since Thanksgiving, things have been getting progressively better and going really good. No complaints," said Mark Kolbusz of Crosstown Sports.

With less than a week before Christmas, for some, the rush is on for those desperately seeking holiday gifts.

"I'm just procrastinating," Joelle Erickson said.

"They have tremendous bargains. But you do see the faces of the people with what they wish they could get and what they can get, but the spirit is really good," said shopper Tange Holmes-Brown.

And that's what experts say is driving an increase in customer traffic and sales, especially along Chicago's fashionable Mag Mile.

"The Mag Miles Lights Festival shopping was the first indication that things were looking up," said John Chikow of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association.

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