Retail Refuge For Last-Minute Shoppers

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'Tis the eve of the procrastinator shopping frenzy: bottlenecked checkout lines, packed parking lots and stores going crazy with retail therapy.

For all you holiday retail slackers, relax -- you're not alone. The National Retail Federation reported that during the week ending Dec. 14, nearly 31 million out of 204 million shoppers -- 15 percent -- hadn't whipped out their checkbook.

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Eighteen-month-old Acicyn Jo Martin couldn't quite keep up with her grandmother during this holiday shopping trip.

So go shopping -- deals abound and the hours are great.

Walgreens, at the intersection of Highways 87 and 260, is open Christmas Day.

"A lot of people buy boxed chocolates because they don't know what else to buy," said Cliff Wilembrecht, Walgreens store manager. "Gift cards and batteries are big sellers on Christmas Day."

The numeric brain twister, Sodoku, board games and electronics are popular and affordable last-minute gifts, said Wilembrecht.

"There's a game called ‘20 Questions.' It's really cool," added Wilembrecht. "Colognes and fragrances are the most popular for women, and the men really don't care what it costs. If she wants it, she gets it."

Walgreens is open Christmas Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shoppers seeking noncommercial, unique items have tons of options in Payson. Kristie Dillman and P.K. Noland, owners of The Carpenter's Wife, slashed their prices 10 to 30 percent storewide.

"Everyone really likes the gift stuff this time of year, and it's affordable," said Dillman.

Gold Canyon scented candles and collectible figurines called Willow Tree Angels are holiday hot sellers

Sate the sweet tooth's cravings with Leonie Dobbins' homemade cookies and cakes in the Red Elephant Cafe and Bakery inside the Carpenter's Wife. Dillman said Dobbins' treats are fantastic gifts for the gourmand, and easy on the pocket.

"She's still taking special orders," said Dillman. "She'll cook until 24th at 2 p.m.. She's making breads, pies and cookie gift packs."

The Carpenter's Wife is located at 112 W. Wade Lane. The store is open Christmas Eve until 2 p.m. and closed Christmas Day.

Treat the beauty buff in your life to one of six holiday spa bundles from Payson Day Spa.

"We put packages together so clients get a discount," said Bettie Horn, owner, "-- a combination of massages, facials, salt rubs, reflexology and European rose mud treatments. These are great gifts for men and women, and they are affordable."

Payson Day Spa is at 815 E. Highway 260, and is open Dec. 24 until 6 p.m.

Wal-Mart's robust holiday volume reflects a nation of motivated shoppers in 2005.

"It's been a successful business year," said Quinn Cremer, store manager.

The National Retail Federation reported that men procrastinate more than women. Guys are up to 17.9 percent -- almost 6 percent slower in getting to the cash register than the ladies.

"Towards the end of the (shopping) season people really start looking at the ladies wear department because men wait until the end," Cremer said. "The cosmetic gift sets are always a great last-minute item."

Wal-Mart closes at 6 p.m Christmas Eve and reopens Dec. 26 at 6 a.m.

And don't forget your best man. Ace Hardware has great deals on chop saws and Black and Decker hand tools.

"We've been really busy," said store manager Joe Smith. "It's been a great year."

Ace closes at 5 p.m Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. Ace Hardware is located at 507 N. Beeline Highway.

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