Forget someone on your gift list? Malls open until 6 p.m. on Monday

2012-12-23T18:36:00Z 2012-12-24T15:11:05Z Forget someone on your gift list? Malls open until 6 p.m. on MondayGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
December 23, 2012 6:36 pm  • 

‘Tis the day before Christmas, and all across the region’s shopping malls, many creatures will continue to stir in a last-ditch search for a perfect present for their family and friends.

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore and his “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem, the region's major shopping malls were packed with people over the weekend, and officials said they expect that trend to continue Monday.

The River Oaks Shopping Center in Calumet City, Westfield Southlake mall in Hobart and the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City have been on extended holiday hours for the month, and all will be open to 6 p.m. Monday.

So people in desperate need of one final present (or those who put off all of their shopping to the last minute) have a chance to pick up a gift.

“I hate that I always put off shopping so long,” said Arleen Peterson, of Hammond, who along with son Myles was at the River Oaks mall over the weekend.

Fortunately for her, she only had one major gift to get.

But that was a big one, since it was for her mother.

“She’s just one of those people who seem like they already have everything they need,” Peterson said. “She’s hard to shop for.”

All around the shopping malls, parking lots were packed to capacity and traffic crept through as people searched in vain for parking spaces.

By the time they worked their way into the malls, they encountered crowds of people.

“It’s the busiest time of year for retail,” said Southlake mall spokeswoman Lisa DeVries.

Officials from all of the malls said their local police departments are cooperative in providing extra officers to patrol the mall during the holiday season as a preventative measure.

“We have a wonderful relationship with the Hobart Police Department," DeVries said. "We’re not concerned about problems with security.”

Of course, what would a shopping mall during the Christmas holiday season be without a place for children to see Santa Claus and his elves?

A strolling Santa wandered Lighthouse Place corridors Saturday, greeting children and listening to their present requests.

At the River Oaks mall was a more traditional Santa Claus house, with kids lined up alongside their parents while they waited for a chance to see St. Nick.

From a financial viewpoint, mall operators said they expect their businesses to do well.

“While we don’t have sales figures at this time, we have been pleased with shopper response,” said Christine Juricic, Lighthouse Place general manager.

DeVries said the stores at Southlake mall have “special discounts” as large as 50 percent on certain items, but many people wound up picking out items based on desire, rather than a special sales price.

Arleen Peterson, who bought her mother a coat for Christmas, explained the family recently moved to Northwest Indiana from Virginia, where the winter weather is much milder than in the Midwest.

“She needs a real 'Chicago-kind' of coat,” Peterson said.

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