|GARY NYLANDER/The Okanagan Saturday|
As a regional mall attracting shoppers from not just the Okanagan, but Kootenays, Thompson and Similkameen, Orchard Park in Kelowna will be extremely busy today, according to general manager Donna Markin.
joining the hordes of others in the Okanagan to start, continue or finish your holiday shopping.
"We've more and more become a society of procrastinators, even though more stores are open more hours than ever in the run-up to Christmas," says Gary Leaman, general manager of Cherry Lane Shopping Centre in Penticton.
"That means the 22nd, 23rd and 24th are always the busiest days for Christmas shopping."
Donna Markin, general manager at Kelowna's Orchard Park mall, concurs.
"Especially when one of the last few days falls on a Saturday, it can't help but be the busiest," she said.
"Plus, Orchard Park is even busier because we are a
regional draw. We get shoppers from throughout the Okanagan, Thompson, Similkameen and Kootenays, and sometimes from as far north as Prince George."
Adrian Loelke of Andre's Electronics Experts, which has stores in Vernon, Penticton, West Kelowna and Kelowna, credits the snowball effect.
"Everyone starts pushing Christmas shopping in November, but the first few weeks are always quiet because people don't see the urgency until the last couple of weeks before Christmas," he said.
Christmas shopping, of course, isn't just about gift buying.
It comes in waves.
It starts with decorations and the things needed to spruce up the house, morphs into buying presents and then turns to food.
"People want fresh, so that means you have to shop for
groceries these last few days before Christmas," said Ryan Lazauskas, a night manager at Marketplace IGA in Kelowna's North Glenmore neighbourhood.
"Today will definitely be our busiest of the year. And we're prepared with lots of staff and lots of everything from turkeys, cranberry and stuffing to produce, bakery and all the dry goods."
If you want to get caught in the crush, shop today 2 to 5 p.m. - the busiest few hours of the busiest day.
So that means a good strategy might be to strike out early today - we're talking 8 a.m. or sooner - to beat the crowds.
Or, in a strategy that defies logic, leave your shopping until the very last minute -- the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
"The 24th will be busy in the morning as people pick up stocking stuffers and check out sales," said Markin.
"But it actually gets pretty quiet the afternoon of the 24th," she added.
If you not sure what to buy, there's always a few options.
The malls, with their heavy emphasis on fashion, suggest clothes, accessories, luggage, cosmetics or jewelery.
Loelke recommends electronics, of course, that can be
interconnected to make your life easier, more entertained and more informed, from smartphones to smart TVs and personal video recorders, tablets and digital cameras.
If all else fails, gift cards are another choice.
Some consider them a cop-out, but in many ways they are practical because they are easy to wrap, the receiver can get exactly what they want with it and often at a reduced price during the Boxing Day and Boxing Week sales.
All this activity proves that online shopping has certainly not killed the bricks-and-mortar store.
"The best retailers marry online with bricks and mortar," said Orchard Park's Markin.
"People have to have the option to research and buy online if they want to, but also, they may research online, but want to come into the store to actually pick up and purchase."
Leaman at Cherry Lane agrees.
"Especially with fashion, people want to see, touch and try on, and get the opinion of their family and friends," he said.
Happy shopping and Merry Christmas.