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Area malls court last-minute shoppers one final time

Malls across the region make a final push for holiday shoppers Friday and Christmas Eve. File photo, Black Friday 2016.
Malls across the region make a final push for holiday shoppers Friday and Christmas Eve. File photo, Black Friday 2016.Read moreMargo Reed

Lauren Ge took her final midterm exam on art history on Tuesday night at Harvard University.

On Friday, she found herself cramming for something else: Getting her Christmas shopping started for her extended family in Exton.

"I had no time to find things online, so I am now just trying to find things in stores," said the 20-year old junior economics major, who made it home for holiday break  Wednesday.  She took King of Prussia Mall by storm, buying things from Anthropologie, Eddie Bauer, Sephora, and Nordstrom on Friday.

The region's malls are giving last-minute buyers like Ge one more opportunity to get their Christmas shopping done. Several offered extended hours Friday.

Most will stay open from early Saturday until 6 p.m. These include nine malls of Simon Property Group, which owns the King of Prussia, Montgomery, and Oxford Valley Malls, as well as three Premium Outlet malls.

"Our goal throughout the entire holiday season is to make consumers' shopping experience as seamless and convenient as possible, and this is especially true for any last-minute shoppers heading to the mall on Friday or Christmas Eve," said Heather Crowell, spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). "This year is unique with Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, when many shoppers are off from work."

PREIT malls plan to be open  7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. They include  Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Willow Grove and Plymouth Meeting. Springfield Mall's Saturday hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exton Square's Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"We anticipate higher-than-usual traffic for the holiday, so we're focused on creating a stress-free environment," Crowell said. "We're offering a variety of amenities and services that will help shoppers save time and money while checking off their gift lists all through [PREIT's] Holiday VIP promotion."

Despite last Saturday's inclement weather and Sunday's brief electrical shutdown, King of Prussia had a "very busy weekend," said the mall's director of marketing and business development, Kathy Smith.

"We anticipated traffic to grow daily through Christmas Eve and to be terrific on Dec. 26 as customers take advantage of after-Christmas sales and make good use of their holiday gift cards," Smith said.

For super-last-minute shoppers, all nine Simon-owned centers will also offer hours on Christmas Eve: Lehigh Valley, Oxford Valley and Quaker Bridge will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; King of Prussia and Montgomery will stay open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Philadelphia Mills and the Crossings, Gloucester, and Philadelphia Premium Outlet malls will open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.

To aid last-minute shoppers short on time and ideas, a personal shopping service will be available at Cherry Hill Mall to give tips and advice. Other complimentary services at PREIT malls include free WiFi, mobile phone charging stations, gift wrapping, family restrooms, stroller rentals, and mall gift card kiosks. Holiday gift guides, VIP tips and tricks, and other shortcuts to help the super-procrastinators will also be available.

"We anticipate heavy activity on Christmas Eve and encourage shoppers to take advantage of our amenities and offerings to simplify their holiday shopping," Crowell said.

Among those who  plan to venture out Saturday are Jonathan and Elizabeth Desir of Langhorne.

The couple ventured into the new Nordstrom Rack at Lincoln Plaza in Langhorne on Friday night. Jonathan, 35, looked at men's watches, while Elizabeth, 33, stayed in women's clothing.

"We're going out to dinner after this to go over ideas on what to give each other," said Jonathan Desir, a 911 dispatcher for Bucks County. "If all works out, the gifts will magically appear under the tree on Christmas."

He said they plan to go shopping on Saturday for each other.

"We're spontaneous," he said. "Waiting til the end keeps it exciting."