Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Waiting until the last minute: Holiday shoppers pick up those final items on Christmas Eve

Brief bursts of snow, a new coronavirus variant and nationwide price increases did not keep Spokane shoppers from checking off the final gifts on their lists on Christmas Eve at local malls.

For married couple Jessica and Vernon Littlewolf, the trip to River Park Square was to get their last-minute gifts, Jessica Littlewolf said.

About 6% of holiday shoppers wait until Dec. 24 to get their last holiday gift, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.

“We waited too long, that’s really what it was,” Jessica Littlewolf said.

The couple traveled from their home in Tri-Cities specifically so Vernon Littlewolf could pick up one of Jessica’s gifts, he said.

“Spokane has a lot more options to shop than in Tri-Cities,” Vernon Littlewolf said. “Also, just to get out of the house.”

The Littlewolfs are shopping amid nationwide supply chain hiccups caused by the pandemic, with about 60% of retail businesses who reported domestic supplier delays in the past month, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Inventory in stores nationwide has dropped, and customers are also dealing with a 6.8% jump in prices since November 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ralph Gregerson was at the Spokane Valley Mall on Friday to shop for his teenage grandchildren. He noticed gifts cost more than he remembered from last year, he said.

“We’ve definitely seen that. It’s all gone up,” he said.

His wife, Anita Gregerson, said they finished shopping for most of their family and friends earlier this month and found planning ahead made it easier. Shopping for teenagers, she said, was challenging in a different way.

“That’s the hard part,” Anita Gregerson said, “figuring out what a 13-year-old wants.”

For others like Sara Groth, she only needed one final thing – her wedding dress, which she had picked out that day in one of the department stores. The wedding is Sunday in the park, she said.

“We really wanted to get married in the snow,” Groth said.

She said she usually avoids the Christmas Eve shopping rush because it can get busy, but that it was convenient to look around at local businesses in case she missed anything.

Shoppers this year have also bought more from small businesses as well as thrift and craft stores than in 2020, according to data the National Retail Federation. Online shopping dropped by about 3% from the year before, according to the data.

Ralph Gregerson said they don’t mind doing the last-minute shopping. Sometimes it’s just fun to roam storefronts.

“I think we’re used to shopping on Christmas Eve, so it’s more laid back for us,” Anita Gregerson said.