Shoppers check off final buys - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Shoppers check off final buys

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Posted: Friday, December 24, 2010 9:09 am

It’s crunch time for some shoppers who are waiting until the last minute to buy gifts to put underneath the tree or in stockings.

As a result, businesses such as Sun City Florists have been flooded with requests. Jessica Piorkowski, a sales representative at the family-owned and operated business, said the place has been a madhouse.

“We’ve been very busy and that’s pretty typical for that last week leading up to Christmas,” she said. “Some people want to send arrangements out of state, which can be hard because at this point a lot of flowers are no longer available and it depends on which florist in which state you talk to. It starts getting very complicated.”

Piorkowski said Sun City Florists has several Christmas arrangements that are always popular, but in addition to that the shop also has other items available.

“We have all different kinds of silk trees, silk arrangements, plants,” she said. “We have glass figurines, balloons, fruit baskets. We get some interesting orders, too.”

Although procrastinating shoppers could be expected to get a little crabby, Piorkowski said her customers are at this point mostly contrite.

“I think they understand that they’ve waited ’til the last minute,” she said. “They usually just tell us whatever we can put together for them is fine.”

Store officials at Arrowhead Towne Center say they have seen plenty of last-minute shoppers scurry to find winter apparel, picture frames, holiday knick-knacks and gift cards for family and friends.

Kaylee Garling, store manager of DownEast Basics, said sales have been about 20 percent higher than anticipated at the women’s clothing store. DownEast Basics opened three months ago, and Garling said many customers have checked out the store based simply on curiosity.

Garling said some of the more popular store items this week have been gift cards and scarves, noting skirts and other formal wear have also been selling because the holiday season typically calls for fancier attire.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales to grow 3.3 percent from 2009, up from its previous forecast of a 2.3 percent rise. Meantime, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse last week reported apparel sales have risen 9.8 percent, jewelry sales are up 2.6 percent and luxury goods sales are up 2.8 percent.

Nick Mabe, owner of Perspective Art and Frame, has been in the framing business for 14 years and said it’s typical for the holiday season to always bring out the procrastinators, who, for the first time in many years, are in good cheer, he said.

“This year has been a lot of fun,” Mabe said. “People are in good spirits, and you don’t always see that near Christmas since the holidays tend to wear on some people. The Christmas grinches haven’t come through.”

Mabe said extended holiday hours at Arrowhead have allowed window shoppers to get some holiday ideas before venturing to his store for last-minute holiday purchases. Business has picked up at his store as of late since, he said, framing jerseys, diplomas, medals, posters and other novelty items isn’t always the first thing on people’s wish and shopping lists.

Mike Whorton, manager of Buckle, said his store has been “extremely busy” as store employees have had to call other Valley Buckle stores in order to meet the demands of shoppers. Shelves continue to be stockpiled with jeans, which represent 65 to 70 percent of sales, as well as sweaters, shoes and accessories like wallets, watches, bags and cologne.

Whorton said he suggests shoppers take their time and be patient when shopping at Arrowhead. He also suggests shoppers take a look at the merchandise to ensure it’s in good condition and that they are spending money on something of value, rather than frivolous items.

Last-minute holiday shoppers can also take advantage of Arrowhead’s “procrastination station,” where they can grab a quick snack and study a long list of gift ideas to finish their shopping. The procrastination station is available through today at the mall’s Center Court.

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