Procrastination was on display Christmas Eve at Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield.
Shoppers had a variety of reasons for why they waited till the last minute to finish their Christmas shopping. On the bright side, the day was festive, not too cold and busy but not crowded.
Some shoppers wore reindeer antlers, while young children strolled the sidewalks selling candy bars. A man in a Santa suit riding a black motorcycle drove slowly by, and a pair of people cooked fresh kettle corn underneath a red tent.
Katherin Padilla, 19, of Clayton called out to shoppers to ask if they wanted to sample the kettle corn. Manning the front of the tent with bags of kettle corn stacked one atop the other, she said the situation was a bit ironic for her.
“We all wait to go shopping at the last minute,” she said. “I’m actually one of the shoppers. I was shopping earlier this morning.”
Rob Irvine of Smithfield bought some kettle corn and happily admitted that he, too, was a late shopper. “I always save a couple purchases for the last couple of days,” he said.
Irvine said he feels fine about being a procrastinator. After all, the shopping always gets done. “I don’t put any pressure on myself,” he said. “I enjoy it.”
“It honestly isn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be,” said Stephanie Milligan of Kinston, who came with her dad, Shaun, also of Kinston. “I thought it was going to be slammed packed, and it’s really not bad.”
The two had been trying to coordinate shopping for a while. “Between work and everything, we couldn’t,” Stephanie said. “Like he was working, or I was working, and finally we’re both off today, so we scrambled up here real fast.”
When asked if they had any tips for other 11th-hour Christmas shoppers, both had sound advice. “Don’t wait till the last minute,” Stephanie said. “Go with your first pick,” Shaun said.
Robert Moore of Lumberton was shopping for a few last-minute gifts, mostly clothing for his children and grandchildren. “My wife’s doing the shopping,” he said. “I’m watching.”
This happens every year, Moore said. His wife couldn’t do her shopping until Tuesday, when she finally got off work, so he ended up leaving the house with her.
“It’s not what I wanted to do, but she worked up until yesterday, so she had to do it today,” he said. “I’d rather be at home sitting by the fireplace, watching TV.”
Nelson Corbett of Wilson’s Mills came by himself to shop for gifts for his wife and son, he said. His shopping was pushed to the deadline because he was too busy.
“It’s all the time spent in preparation for Christmas,” he said. “Family coming over, work, just different things get in the way, and finally I’ve got a day off.”
Corbett found himself pleasantly surprised, because the stores weren’t overcrowded. His advice for other procrastinators? “Know what you want before you go shopping,” he said.
Corbett admitted he could have gone shopping earlier this month, but waiting so long wasn’t bad. “I’ve enjoyed being out here by myself today and looking, thinking, finding,” he said. “I think I’ve done pretty good today.”
But one family would have been there shopping whether it was Christmas or not. The Riise family was in town from Norway visiting their son, Ole Riise, 17, who is an exchange student at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh.
“It’s kind of last-minute Christmas shopping, but it’s not like we have to, but it’s like, ‘Maybe we can find something nice?’” said Anneken Riise, 14.
Their father, Ran, said the family was carefully choosing what to buy since presents have to come back on an airplane. The family stopped by the outlet center on their way back to Raleigh from Wilmington.
Ole and his family said they’ve enjoyed spending time in the Triangle. “(My family) came across the Atlantic just to spend Christmas Eve with me,” he said.