Dec. countdown

Just a few days left to shop, wrap, cook and pack

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Irma Chutes, 59, of Marietta, looks through deals at Peebles Monday in search of final gifts for her grandsons.

With six days left until Christmas morning families are either packing up or picking up final necessities.

AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday through Jan. 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. This year marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Meanwhile local stores like Marietta’s Kmart, Peebles and Big Lots are still seeing hot items leave the shelves quickly and some are even extending hours this week for the last-minute shopper.

“Fingerlings– the little toy monkeys– those are the hot item this year,” said Kmart Store Manager Angie Meiser-Smith. “And LOL Surprise Dolls are going fast too.”

Smith said cookware is also popular every year whether one is shopping for a loved one to upgrade, or a young adult beginning to cook on their own.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Easy stocking stuffers for family members include holiday-themed jewelry or other items found around town this week, like these at Peebles.

That’s the same advice echoed at Peebles, according to Assistant Store Manager Carol Hanel.

“Sheets, towels, dish sets, cookware, those are all useful gifts each year,” she said. “And we do sell a lot of kids and juniors clothes around this time and our boots are popular.”

At Big Lots, Store Manager Joe Luse said while the store doesn’t do layaway, price holds during sales throughout the year have several armchairs awaiting pickup this Friday and Saturday.

“That’s a big item every year,” he said. “It seems like every mom, grandma and dad wants a recliner for Christmas and with our spring things already out and Christmas decorations in clearance, people are grabbing lawn flags and garden ornaments as gifts too.”

For the chefs in the family, Luse said shoppers can even grab a grill on clearance this week.

“I’ve got to move in the newest model so it’s clearing us up quick,” he added.

Shops like Zides downtown are also seeing the final push for Christmas gifts.

“Our Under Armour cold gear products with infa-red are going quickly and so are the tobaggan hats,” said Mike Roberts, manager of retail at the sports shop. “The big push right now is to get the last of the lettering done with the custom orders placed in early November. Letterman jackets are always a popular Christmas gift, but so are the rest of the high school clothing for street wear.”

Up through Christmas Eve, some stores will still remain open to get the last stragglers in search of a gift.

“We’re open until midnight this week and then on Christmas Eve to 10 p.m.,” said Smith.

Peebles also has extended hours until 10 p.m. this week, 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday.

“And our makeup counters are having their presale orders and make shopping for women easy with gift sets too,” added Hanel.

Melissa Arnold, 35, of Reno, was shopping Monday to finish off the Christmas list before all of the extended family comes to her home for the holiday.

“I’m actually grabbing the last four to five things today, those hard to find or special gifts,” she said. “Then this year for Christmas my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are bringing their two littles to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us. And my father-in-law and other brother-in-law will come Christmas morning and all of my side of the family will join us for lunch at my house.”

With all of that traveling by family, Arnold said she’s hoping for good weather, but knows her in-laws will make sure to budget for an extended travel time.

“They live in Thornville which is about an hour and 20 minutes or so away but with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old I’m sure they will take their time,” she said.

For Irma Chutes, 59, of Marietta, final items for her 7- and 8-year-old grandsons were on the list Monday.

“I don’t know about giving money for Christmas,” she said. “So I’m looking for my two grandsons’ gifts. The little one is into board games and the older one is into game systems… it’s a little nerve-wracking now, I have to get it done.”

Holiday travel by the numbers

¯ 107.3 million Americans are expected to travel between Saturday and Jan. 1.

¯ 97.4 million people will hit the road, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.

¯ 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

¯ 3.6 million people will travel by cruise ship, train or bus, an increase by 2.2 percent.

¯ The greatest amount of travel congestion is predicted to occur Wednesday and Thursday afternoons this week as commuters mix with travelers on the road.

Source: AAA Travel Forecast.