It's not procrastination, they say, just good timing

Early edition: Last-minute Christmas shoppers like the deals they get and the simplicity of the process.

Published December 23, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG — They are often painted as holiday slackers — irresponsible or forgetful gift givers who wait until the final hours of the Christmas season before trekking out for presents.

But many last-minute shoppers Saturday believed they had the trick to holiday shopping down.

Think about it, they said. Everything is usually marked down in the days just before Christmas.

Last-minute shoppers rarely have to deal with the stress of hiding gifts from their snooping spouses and children for an extended period. And fewer choices on the shelves means less time agonizing in the toy store over which Elmo doll your little one would prefer.

“This is the tradition of procrastination,” said David Carter, 41, of St. Petersburg, as he waited in the gift wrap line at Tyrone Square Mall Saturday afternoon with nearly a dozen packages in his arms. “If you buy gifts ahead of time, then you want to give them out right away. This just works for me.”

Carter was one of hundreds of shoppers who trudged through the mall this weekend in search for the gift that would make them Santa Claus for a day.

The day before Christmas Eve is considered one of the busiest of the year, but Saturday, many shoppers calmly weaved in and out of crowds, clutching armfuls of gifts.

As the day inched toward nightfall, Larry Odom stood outside Sears with a toaster in his hand debating whether he should get it wrapped at the mall. He always puts off his gift shopping, and a few years ago, he even waited too long and ended up without anything to give on Christmas Day.

But he said he wouldn’t shop any other way.

“It is not a reflection of our feelings toward our wives or children,” he said. “It’s just how we do it.”

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.