Last-minute holiday shoppers flock to local retailers as Christmas nears

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) -- The pressure is on for holiday shoppers as Christmas nears.

Shoppers were out in full force at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.

"There are so many people here but we have to do what we have to do, you know," said Jessica Aguirre, holiday shopper.

The big crowds mean big numbers for brick and mortar retailers.

"Every year ecommerce grows by double digits. It's growing faster than retail, but at some point you need retail stores, and this is that time. When you can no longer can shop online and when you've procrastinated, it's stores," said Neil Stern, retail expert with McMillan Doolittle.

ShopperTrak estimates the week leading up to Christmas will account for more than 20 percent of overall foot traffic in these stores, with the most coming on Saturday.

"Tomorrow is the busiest shopping day of the year and the busiest day of the season. They're expecting 125 million shoppers to be out there in the stores," said Stern.

That's almost 40 percent of the entire US population.

Kurt Webb, general manager at Woodfield, is prepared.

"This is very exciting for us, it's like a Black Friday for us. Having the holiday fall on a Monday, we will have a very exciting weekend to shop and prepare," said Webb.

This time of year is make or break for brick and mortar retailers.

"In some cases, this time of year determines their profits. In other cases holiday sales will determine whether they're open next year or not," said Stern.

How to brave the crowds? Stern suggests treating the experience like Disneyland. His tips include identifying which stores to shop at before you hit the mall, and knowing where to park.

Webb estimates hundreds of thousands of shoppers will walk through the mall on Saturday.

Woodield Mall is open from 7 a.m. until midnight on Saturday, and many retailers have extended shopping hours through the weekend. All Christkindlemarket locations are open until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
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