MEQUON -- On Christmas Eve, with Christmas just hours away, Milwaukee area malls and stores were madhouses as folks scrambled to cross those last few items off their lists.
The parking lot at Mequon Pavilions on N. Port Washington Road in Mequon was packed throughout the day on Thursday, December 24th. Some were grabbing last-minute gifts and groceries ahead of Christmas on Friday -- and yes, there were also those crazy few who were just getting started on their Christmas shopping!
"I just wanted to Tiny Hats on Cats white elephant gift. It was perfect," Graham Charlton said.
Tara Smith, the manager at "Book World" says her store has seen heavy foot traffic this week -- leading up to Christmas. She says shoppers are spending lots of money this year.
"Literally when I'm walking out of my car to come into the building to open this door, people are following me in. Up to the minute that we go home, it's just crazy and today it's coming in spurts," Smith said.
The parking lot in front of the store was teeming with people.
The Sendik's Food Market next door was just as crazy busy. Sendik's officials said they were seeing more than double the number of customers they normally see on a weekday.
That meant it was all hands on deck on Thursday.
"Pretty much all of our staff is working today -- people from all of our offices are helping out -- our finance people, our human resources, our marketing people are in the stores helping out where we can. Our owners -- you'll find them bagging some groceries. It's that kind of day," Nick Bandoch, Sendik's communications director said.
Shoppers FOX6 News spoke with say they expected the huge crowds on Christmas Eve.
"Definitely harder to find a spot than normal I would say -- but yeah, I mean, it wasn't unexpected. You knew it was going to be busy," Charlton said.
Retailers say they plan for the Christmas rush months in advance.
"I prepare like I'm going into battle. I try to make sure we have everything that we need. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires. It's been working so far this holiday season," Smith said.