Last Minute Shoppers Crowd Area Stores


As the clock ticked down the hours and minutes until Christmas, area shoppers turned out in droves to the Emerald Square mall and other stores along Route 1, hurrying along to find the perfect last-minute gifts.

Traffic from the I-295 North exit had already begun backing up onto the highway before noon, and Route 1 was a steady stream of taillights nearly at a standstill early in the afternoon. Parking places in the mall’s parking lot were hard to come by, and foot traffic within the mall was all hustle and bustle.

Stacy Booker of Seekonk took a quick breather on a bench in the mall’s lower level, her shopping bags full of clothes for her daughter and fiance close at hand.

“Most of my shopping is done at the last minute,” Booker said. “I honestly don’t know why...I have no reason for it.”

However, with nearly every store offering deep discounts for the last-minute shoppers, great deals were not hard to come by, and Booker noticed this.

“You do get the better sales (at this time),” Booker said.

Lisa Gagnon of North Smithfield, R.I., was another shopper who found a bargain price on a choice item: a pair of Liz Claiborne boots at nearly 60 percent off at JCPenney.

“Everything’s on sale, so it feels like it’s the right time,” Gagnon said.

Among the stores offering last-minute deals were Lane Bryant, which had a buy-one-get-one incentive; Crazy8 advertised 80 percent off the entire store, and Express lured shoppers in with the entire store being 50 percent off. Thus, many stores were wall-to-wall with people.

“I’m waiting for my wife, on the phone. That’s how I do it,” said Bob Brouillard of North Smithfield, R.I., who patiently waited for his wife outside the busy Victoria’s Secret.

The Brouillards had originally gone out to the grocery store for their Christmas Eve party, then decided to grab “a few more things for the kids.”

“If you ask my wife, I like to do my (Christmas) shopping in October,” Brouillard said.

While the last-minute rush could usually be attributed to the slashed prices, for many shoppers, life sometimes had a way of getting in the way.

“This year was an unusual year,” said Paul Parks, Jr. of Cumberland, who was shopping with his daughter Victoria, home from Curry College.

Parks did have a longstanding tradition of buying one gift on Christmas Eve; however, having undergone surgery earlier in the year, his usual early shopping routine had been disrupted.

Fortunately, Parks felt well enough to spend time with his daughter and pick up a few gifts in the mall’s hurried yet spirited atmosphere.

“Everyone seems to be very friendly. I noticed that this year,” Parks said.

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