COVID pandemic doesn't stop last-minute shoppers from scrambling for gifts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed a lot of things, but holiday shopping procrastination isn't one of them.

Just like any Christmas Eve, last-minute shoppers in Chicago braved the cold temperatures to get those last items on their holiday gift list.

"It's been hard to keep track of time, like, yesterday we realized, 'Oh we forgot a present to buy so we better do that today,'" said Gail Swanson, last-minute shopper.

In a year of pandemic, the last-minute shopping looked much different from years past.

"It's totally different. I mean, the joy is still there, though but it's totally different, less people," said Maridsa Rivera, last-minute shopper.

Parking lots had steady traffic but no traffic jams, and if there were long lines they were not for the checkout counter but for contactless curbside pickup. From downtown to Bucktown, the last-minute shopping car parades extended for blocks by Nordstrom, Kohl's and Best Buy.

The lighter crowds could be due to the increase in online shopping, according to retail experts.

"There's definitely a lot of online shopping and a lot of boxes showing up on our doorstep," said Campbell Swanson, last-minute shopper.

The National Retail Federation said it expects online sales to jump between 20 to 30 percent, which is up more than $168 billion from last season.

"I did a lot of shopping online; I mean, we kept it really small," said Brenda Nieves. "It's been really tough, you know, throughout this whole pandemic, but I guess you have to keep the cheer, you have to keep the spirit, even though it's different. You have to keep the spirit going."

Despite the blow to many businesses, the NRF forecasts overall holiday sales to be up between 3 and 5 percent.
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