ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Procrastinating shoppers packed Albuquerque malls and stores onChristmas Eve giving retailers some hope that even better times areahead.
Many last-minute buyers said they were surprised at the salesigns that seemed to pop up everywhere inside Cottonwood Mall innorthwest Albuquerque late Thursday afternoon.
“I haven't had an opportunity to shop untiltoday,” said Lupita Peña who was shopping for her entirefamily. "Kind of getting some better deals, and I'm able to getbetter stuff."
The size of the crowds even stunned some stores and managerslike Erik Contreras, a veteran of 11 shopping seasons.
"I was definitely surprised by all the last-minute shopperswe had today,” said Erik Contreras, who manages the Expressstore at Cottonwood, told KRQE News 13. "The definitely showedup."
Contreras, a last-minute shopper himself, said his store wasunexpectedly busy all week and thinks that could be a sign theeconomy is getting better.
"If there was anything to put and end to 'is the recessionover, is it not over,’ I think today shows you we're on theright track," he said.
The mall closed at 6 p.m. while the Target store on Paseo DelNorte didn't close until 7.
That's where Michael DeAngelo was buying some final gifts asthe lights turned out.
"I have some Legos and a bike for my little girl," he said."She's been asking Santa for a bike all year. I'm happy Target isstill open until 7."
Many shoppers told News 13 they had to wait until ChristmasEve for the same reason as DeAngelo: payday.
"I just got paid yesterday, so that had a lot to do with it,"he said.
National retail reports differ on an outlook for the successof this year’s holiday shopping season.
One report predicts an increase of about 1 percent over lastyear’s sales. Another predicts a 1 percent decrease.
Other experts said the final outcome will depend on the saleof gift cards.
Santa can't do it all alone. He needs elves to help with the toys and he needs the post office to help with the deliveries.
After joining a program that helps disadvantage kids, a man entrusted with children is accused of using the program to prey on a young boy.
Thieves are leaving big, gaping holes around Roswell.
A pedestrian is in critical condition Thursday night after being struck by a car in downtown Albuquerque.
New Mexico honored a fallen hero Thursday as family, friends and law enforcement officers gathered for the funeral of Sandoval County Sheriff's Sergeant Robert Baron.