Last-minute shopping in full swing but won't add much to bottom line

There are just two shopping days left before Christmas and thousands of people are out at malls and shopping centers throughout the Bay Area. 

But are retailers actually seeing a boost in sales overall as people pick up those last-minute gifts?  

On Thursday night, Santana Row was festive and people seemed to be out just to get into the Christmas spirit. But we did catch up with a few people who were actually shopping.  

"We actually got these Build-a-Bears for each other. Just for the Christmas vibes," said Jonathan Choi, from San Francisco.   

Choi and his girlfriend drove in from San Francisco because they wanted a change of scenery and to pick up presents they haven’t had time to buy.   

"We don’t usually shop this late, but there are some last-minute gifts that I still have to get," Choi said. 

Retail experts say sales are down this holiday shopping season mainly due to inflation. 

Still, many retailers have their largest discount sales in November and last-minute shopping doesn’t truly impact their overall bottom line. 

"A lot of this activity cannot compensate for any shortfall that occurs from the beginning of November up to Black Friday. A lot of this last-minute activity is also social activity. It’s also smaller, last-minute things that people are doing. You know they’re going to someone’s house for a party, and they’re buying for that," said Kirthi Kalyanam, executive director of Santa Clara University's Retail Management Institute. 

And as predicted, many of the people KTVU spoke to said they’d already done much of their shopping when the discounts were the deepest.  

"Actually, I bought all of these the first week of December. I’m all about sales. I don’t like to wait. I’m all about online shopping. I just come here for the ambiance and really, I’m such a homebody," said Jackie Tomboc, of San Jose.     

"I’m an early shopper because most of my family is in Ireland, so I tend to shop early and be done early," said Regina Wiepking, from San Jose.     

"We started our vacation time early today, so we’re finally taking some time off to spend the holiday," said Luo Huyh, from San Jose. 

Kalyanam also says the Bay Area’s economy stands out on its own and is quite different from the national economy when it comes to retail sales.  

"So overall, our retailers may be doing very well but even our retailers, if they didn’t get a good lift from November 1st to Black Friday. They’re not going to be able to pick that up in this last part of the season," Kalyanam said. 

So it may be hard to find a parking space at the mall but once you do, the stores may not be as crowded as you’d expect.