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Retailers prep for last-minute shopping maul

<p>Still trying to find that perfect gift for those on your Christmas list with only one week to go until the big day?</p>

More than 150,000 people expected daily this week at West Edmonton Mall

Marc Bence/for metro edmonton

With only one week of shopping days left before Christmas, those still roaming the stores and malls looking for the perfect present are facing a maze of gift-hungry crowds.

Still trying to find that perfect gift for those on your Christmas list with only one week to go until the big day?

Good luck, say shoppers at Canada’s biggest mall who were facing a long hike in the snow from their vehicles to the building’s doors yesterday because of a jam-packed parking lot.

With one week left until Christmas Day, retailers at West Edmonton Mall and other businesses across the city are gearing up for a mad dash of customers who are hoping to fill extra spaces underneath their Christmas trees.

More than 150,000 people are expected to rush through the mall’s doors every day during the last week of Christmas shopping, says WEM spokeswoman Kimberley Evans.

Boxing Day is even busier at the mall, she says, as more than 200,000 people flood into its stores annually to find door-crasher deals.

She recommends that shoppers arrive extra early and be prepared to face the crowds.

"Obviously patience is a big factor, but be a little prepared in knowing where you want to go by scouting ahead of time online on our website," she says.

Since the mall is so busy this time of year, some out-of-towners even booked off work yesterday for some last-minute shopping. But one customer says shopping the weekend before the big day is "absolutely nuts."

"It would be stupid to go shopping here on Christmas Eve — and I’ve done that," said Brent Satre, who made the one-day trip to the mall with his family from Wetaskiwin. "Never again will I do that."

Shopping in the city’s malls mere days away from the big day will make someone feel like they are being trampled on, says Joseph Lindal, 32, who did just that a year ago.

"Last year I ended up parking on the street and walking over here," Lindal says. "All I can say is, start shopping in January for next year."

Three city Wal-Mart stores are taking advantage of the mad Christmas dash — and last-minute shoppers — by keeping their doors open 24 hours until Christmas Eve.


big spenders

  • Albertans spent close to $1,000 per capita last year on Christmas shopping, which is more than any other province, according to recent figures from Statistics Canada.

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