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Last-Minute Shoppers Flock to Stores on Christmas Eve

NEW YORK CITY — O come, all ye shoppers.

Holiday procrastinators looking for last minute gifts flocked to stores across the five boroughs on Christmas Eve looking for the perfect present— or any present at all.

At a packed Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, rushed shoppers encountered picked-over shelves and busy workers prepared for large crowds at stores like Target and the Burlington Coat Facotory.

But some shoppers were expecting even worse.

"I was surprised it wasn't more crowded," said shopper Austin Alexis. "Maybe it's the time of day, but this is surprising. It's very quiet."

Krystin Soto, 20, of Sunset Park, said she'd done her major shopping early, but planned to shop for friends after the holiday, when stores are less crowded.

That was before her best friend announced she was popping in on Christmas Eve.

"I figured I'd get something a couple of days after, when they have the discounts," Soto said. "This is last minute, but then I'm done."

The Queens Center Mall was the choice of last-minute gift buyers in Queens. One shopper, Astoria-resident Elizabeth Aloiso, 30, was trying to make up for lost ime before rushing home.

"I forgot a gift for my grandmother," Aloiso said. "I got her a blouse, and now I have to go home and get ready."

For some, work schedules forced the last-minute shopping. Fernanda Ortiz, a 31-year-old Richmond Hill resident, had to buy all of her gifts on Monday.

"It's the only day that I got for shopping," Ortiz said. "I already got a pair of sneakers, a sweater, boots, video games. I'm still shopping for some jewelry for my sister and my mom."

Other shoppers took the late opportunity to buy gifts they weren't able to buy before. Sean Ramdhaine, 35, had a two-hour window to shop before he had to head back to work.

"I didn't have time to come earlier," Ramdhaine said. "I'm still looking for gifts for my girlfriend and my nephew."

In Manhattan, the shops at Columbus Circle were a relatively calm scene for shoppers like Lucy Allen, 53. Although she lives in Union Square, she took a chance that the shops at Columbus Circle would be less crowded.

"I thought it would be a bit more calm," Allen said. "I'm usually a last minute shopper."

Allen was in the middle of buying shirts and pajamas for her children, something that might dissappoint her 12-year-old son.

"He wanted a lemur and an Audi, but we didn't get that for him," Allen said.

At the Staten Island Mall, Willowbrook-resident Isabella Mazzie, 59, said she had spent two hours shopping and bought $800 worth of presents.

And, she said, there was still more to come.

"Every year it gets harder," Mazzie said. "After New Years you cry because you have no more money."