CHICAGO (WLS) -- Last-minute Christmas shopping meant an in-person sprint to the finish for thousands of Chicagoans Friday.
The bags were out, and people were caffeinated and ready to go. Chicago on Christmas Eve is packed with last-minute presents aplenty, whether you're on State Street in the Loop, at Chriskindlemarket, on the Mag Mile, or out in the neighborhoods at local small businesses.
"Heating blankets, because I know the cold is coming, so yeah, my mom wanted that so I'm excited," shopper Monique Martin said she was buying.
"This is like the first year I think in two years I've actually, on Christmas Eve even, just running around in person, and getting into those stores is kind of a nice feeling," said shopper Margaret Suszka. "Even though it's still a little chaotic, it's nice to be in person."
"We're still seeing the store pretty busy," said Scott Friedland, owner of Timeless Toys in Lincoln Quare. "We're a little bit slower than usual Christmas Eve, actually, but we had a lot of shoppers come really early in the season this year due to all the shipping issues."
The National Retail Federation said the month of November saw a 14% increase in sales year over year, putting the 2021 holiday season in line for record spending despite inflation and supply chain problems.
The Magnificent Mile Association said foot traffic in this holiday season has been strong, and rivaled 2019 on some days.
But with the world as it is and COVID cases rising yet again, it's important to remember what the holiday season is really about.
"Health is wealth," Suszka said. "I'm grateful to just be with my family and to be healthy and fortunate enough to be together, I think that's the biggest thing for us."