The nation's retailers are hoping procrastinators and bargain hunters will help make their holiday sales goals today.
They've had a mixed season so far. Popular electronic items like flat-screen T-Vs and hot toys like T.M.X. Elmo flew off the shelves early. But consumers held off on apparel, and sales figures for early December were disappointing.
With Christmas falling on a Monday, stores hoped customers would use the entire weekend to shop. One shopper in Connecticut predicted that by leaving it all until the last minute, he would be able finish in two hours. His explanation: "no lines, and everyone is smiling."
Last-minute shoppers are also finding some last-minute bargains. Many stores have slashed prices in an attempt to lure customers. Others are now looking toward a post-Christmas sales surge.