Last minute it wasn't, but shoppers surged Saturday to malls, shopping centers and stores in the Omaha area with Christmas bearing down on them.
Shoppers still have three days before Christmas as of today. But for some, it felt like time was running out. Many took the traffic, crowds and rush in excellent spirits.
Store managers and owners throughout the city called it a solid holiday shopping season so far.
“Christmas business has been really good,” said Don McPherson, owner of Styles of Evolution at 24th and Ohio Streets.
This has been his best year in seven years of ownership at the northeast Omaha clothing store, McPherson said.
Beth Black, co-owner of the Bookworm in Countryside Village shopping center, said the season has delighted her.
“We've had an awesome year,” Black said. “People are reading.”
Kathleen Berg of Omaha roamed the Bookworm early Saturday afternoon with her arms full of books.
She bought three copies of “Santa Is Coming to Omaha” and 15 of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book.” Berg also acquired some paper plates and napkins with Santa and Christmas tree designs on them.
“This is kind of your last-minute panic buying, is what it is,” Berg said.
A threesome looking at girls pants at the J.C. Penney in Westroads Mall also appeared to enjoy the task at hand.
Amari Mauldin, 12, had been sick much of last week. Saturday was the first day that her mother, Tiffany Cosentino, and her grandmother, Cindy Cosentino, could take her shopping.
“So we are on a mission today,” Tiffany Cosentino said.
Amari had skinny jeans in her hands and on her mind. The three pored over a rack of jeans of various colors and it was finally time for a decision.
“OK, (it's) between the orange and the green,” Amari's grandma said.
Amari leaned toward orange.
The three belong to a Christmas-loving bunch. “Christmas is our holiday,” Cindy Cosentino said.
Checkout lines stretched long at Nebraska Furniture Mart about noon, and traffic wound slowly toward Westroads Mall.
Inside the mall's stores, customers could buy, among other items, ornaments of mice holding swords and Santa playing a mandolin, and T-shirts that read: “Happy Birthday Sweet Little 8 Pound 6 Ounce Baby Jesus” and “Keep Calm, It's Almost Christmas.”
“This way, Grandpa,” 15-year-old Natastia Brooks-Carnes said to Max Hooker as they strode through J.C. Penney.
Hooker said it was fine to shop with his granddaughter for Christmas stuff.
“As long as we're not shopping for her,” Hooker said. “I don't know if I want to do it again.”
“He pays. I buy, I look,” Natastia said of shopping with her grandfather.
“That's the way life goes,” he responded.
Back at the Bookworm, Kathleen Berg wore no stress on her face.
“It's my favorite time of year, actually,” she said. “I love it.”
It's good, though, that Christmas will arrive soon, she said. Otherwise, she'd just keep on buying.