Last minute shoppers in search of gifts on Christmas Eve

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SARASOTA - If you forgot to do your Christmas shopping or waited until the last minute, you're not alone.  According to a survey by Consumer Reports, a total of 17 million Americans are out at the malls on Christmas Eve.

"I'm away at school and iI just got back so I really didn't have any time beforehand," said shopper Michael Thomas.

"Yeah, it's last minute," added Bruce Flynn.  "We just flew in from Hong Kong and I haven't had a lot of time to shop, so actually this is the best time to come."

It's business that some managers said is essential this holiday season.  Retail-sales tracking company Shoppertrak reports not-so-hot November and December numbers and forecast retail holiday sales to grow by 2.5% year over year in 2012, down from the 3.3% increase it originally predicted.

"I think some of it's the economy," said Pandora Jewelry store manager Janet Bailey.  "I think some of it's the election.  They weren't sure exactly how things were going to go and I think more people being more conservative with their money right now."

But for those who had cash to spend, Christmas Eve was the day to do it.

"I received a bonus from my job and from the church and I'm spending it," said Linda Morlock.

"I'm looking for CDs for my wife," shopper Kevin Sopio said.  "Seems like every one I look for is gone.  I found only one so late shopping isn't always good."

Which is why retailers said if you shop last minute it's important to have a plan.

"We do have a lot of stock still here but a lot of things are gone," said Target team leader Leah Lewis.  "So know what you want so you can get home and have christmas with your family."

If you are running out of time you can do cash or even get a gift card.