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Neither Rain Nor Cold Stops Yule Shoppers

Despite foul weather in Los Angeles and many other areas, eager shoppers clutching wish lists and credit cards crowded into stores across the nation today, the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season and one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

In Southern California, it was a damp start for the shopping season. Many shoppers braved torrents of rain to take advantage of some stores’ early openings, but some retailers complained that business was slower because of the weather.

Joette Lamar of Los Angeles was at the Westside Pavilion’s Nordstrom store 20 minutes before the 8 a.m. opening. It was her second stop of the morning.

“The crowds were pretty good at K mart, which opened at 7 a.m.,” she said from a protected corner under an overhang.

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Mainly on the Malls

In San Diego, the rain fell mainly on the shopping malls--or so it seemed to merchants and shoppers who agreed that wet and rainy weather was slowing what should have been a busier day.

Although many stores opened early, shoppers seemed to be waiting for the usual 10 a.m. opening in hopes that the rain would slow by then.

At San Diego’s Mission Valley Center and the newly opened Horton Plaza, indoor parking spots were filled by 10 a.m., and latecomers were circling the lots in vain attempts at finding a spot.

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Many stores nationwide opened as early as 7 a.m. and beefed up security to protect shoppers from pickpockets.

Heavy in Houston

In Houston, shoppers ignored cold mist and slick roads, descending early and in record numbers on major area malls.

“It was as if somebody shot off a starter’s gun at 10 o’clock,” said Wayne Adcoe, assistant general manager of the Galleria. “The place is absolutely jammed.”

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“It’s jammed,” said Susan Weiner, an executive at Gimbels department store in Pittsburgh. “It looks like we should have a pretty big increase over last year.”

While people came to buy gifts, many also came for the atmosphere--the Santa Clauses, with their white beards, big tummies and bright red outfits, the glittering and tinkling decorations or their favorite Christmas carols.

Wally Broberg, manager of Hammond Tots & Toys in Salt Lake City, said, “We’re so busy I can’t even take the time to talk to you right now.”

While no stampedes were reported across the county, shoppers were grabbing Teddy Ruxpin talking teddy bears and adoptable, soft-sculptured Pound Puppies.

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