• 57°

Stores brace for shoppers

Last-minute shoppers will have to shop early for those final Christmas presents as local retailers close the doors early for Christmas Eve.

Thus far proprietors are hailing sales for this year’s shopping season as “exceptionally well.”

May Thornton, Burke’s Outlet store manager, said the two weeks leading up to Christmas have been one of the store’s best. She hopes the trend continues through the 7 p.m. close of business today.

“We’re expecting big crowds as people realize they need a few more presents,” Thornton said. “The whole week has been good for us, but last week was awesome. We saw the most customers since we opened the doors.”

At Wal-Mart, register lines have been full of customers as cashiers worked full-throttle to handle last minute customers. Store manager Earl Preachers said the term “very busy” is an understatement for the number of customers.

“We expect the rush to continue through the week,” Preachers said. “We will close the doors at 8 p.m., be closed Christmas Day and reopen Saturday at 6 a.m., as we all know what the day after Christmas is like.”

Local specialty retailers, Ansley Place and Ward & Co., each said last-minute shoppers are welcome.

“We love last-minute shoppers,” Mike Ward said. “We’ve been slammed over the last week and expect today to be more of the same. Business has been good all the way around.”

Ansley Place owner Louisa Mann said her store has been “blessed” with an abundance of customers this holiday season.

“And there’s still time if people need something (today),” she said. The store will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. today.

In Opp, Peebles’ assistant store manager Judy Everage said customers in Covington County have taken the adage to “shop at home” to heart.

“We’ve been extremely busy, especially over the last week or so with people buying children’s clothes,” Everage said. “Especially people shopping for needy children. Overall, business has been tremendous, and we’re expecting that last minute rush to be very busy.”

Peebles will close at 7 p.m. tonight and reopen at 9 a.m. Saturday.