Holiday rush: Region’s shoppers hit the stores as Christmas nears

By Dennis Seid and Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Christmas Eve is three days away and Jamye Doherty just started shopping.
She avoided the Black Friday rush, but she couldn’t quite escape the growing crowds at retail stores in Tupelo. On Tuesday, she was at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
“I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to shopping,” she said with a laugh. “But I got my husband’s gift yesterday, my daughter’s gift today and my son’s … so I don’t have a lot left.”
A survey released Monday from Visa found that 77 percent of consumers haven’t finished Christmas shopping. They are expected to spend on average $278 in last-minute shopping, the survey found.
Annette Reed is one of those last-minute shoppers. She was in downtown Tupelo on Tuesday trying to cross a few more names off her list.
“It’s a big list,” she said. “I can’t go out and do it all in one day or even in one week. I do three or four in a day, check them off the list and then go back out.”
The late rush is translating into nice sales figures for downtown retailers like Monogram It! and Yellow Lovebirds.
“It’s really been crazy,” said Jenna Hankins at Monogram It!. “We had to do a cut-off date. We have people wanting to get stuff done but we already have a huge pile.”
Workers are staying at least three hours after the store closes to make sure everyone’s Christmas gifts are ready, she said.
Hankins said the store is compromising with last-minute shoppers by selling monogram-ready items in the store this week and giving shoppers the option to return in January and get the item monogrammed.
“We’ve been extremely busy,” she said. “I can’t complain.”
Gift cards have been popular with last-minute shoppers at Yellow Lovebirds. Owner Carrie Hancock said her customers have included plenty of men buying gifts for their wives. Plus, mothers are buying last-minute presents for daughters, she said.
And, lunch break has been extremely busy, she said, as customers scramble to finish their lists before Christmas.
Clarence McFarlin, who sells jewelry, engraved jewelry, lighters and other gift items at a mall kiosk, said he had no complaints about the Christmas shoppers.
Mall General Manager Jeff Snyder said that feeling is shared by many mall retailers.
“This season has been very stable, and sales are far better than anticipated,” he said.
Rada Keith, who’s been wrapping presents at the mall for 20 years, said business couldn’t be better.
“It’s been picking up,” she said. “I’ve been enjoying it.”
dennis.seid@journalinc.com carlie.kollath@journalinc.com