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Countywide : Mall Rush Centered in Parking Lot

Painfully aware that time is running out, anxious Christmas shoppers descended on area shopping malls Sunday, where they raced for parking spaces but paused before taking out their pocketbooks.

By many merchants’ accounts, it was only a moderate shopping day compared to Dec. 23 in years past--a reflection of the jump in oil prices and national fears of a recession. “This is the slowest we’ve been in a long time. It’s absolutely crazy,” said Grant Breding, a salesclerk at The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York located in South Coast Plaza.

The exception to the rule at South Coast Plaza and MainPlace/Santa Ana appeared to be toy stores, which were jammed with children making additions to their wish lists as well as mothers, fathers, uncles and grandmothers all trying to figure out what to buy.

For some, there were just too many choices. The popular Baby Alive--a doll that eats, drinks and wets. Train sets. Educational puzzles.

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Rod Beard, 31, knelt in front of several packages of pink beauty kits, each equipped with fingernail polish, miniature hairbrushes, curlers and other accessories.

“I’m just trying to figure out how to divide these up between my niece and my kids,” said the Fullerton resident and father of two girls, 1 and 2. “I’ve got a yard of gum here too and that should do it. I think. I hope.”

At another toy store at Main Place, Tyler Martin, a 12-year-old from Irvine, lamented the cost of Legos and other toys.

“The littlest things are so expensive,” he said. “This little itty bitty box is $17,” he said, holding up Space Police, a Legos set. “It’s ridiculous.”

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Another popular spot for adults was Victoria’s Secret, where husbands and boyfriends hoped to find a gift for their beloved two days before Christmas.

“I’m going to be working Christmas Eve and that’s going to be really funny,” salesclerk Anne Herrick said. “You get all the men at the last minute and they let you to do the shopping for them.”

Nearby, a prospective customer wandered over to another clerk, Elaine Myhowich, and asked, “Do you have any briefs for women with Christmas patterns?” Later, he turned his attention to a display of lace bras.

“Do you know what size?” Myhowich asked helpfully. The customer, however, shook his head. “That’s going to be a problem then,” Myhowich said.

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At Chanel Boutique in South Coast Plaza, the popular items were handbags and expensive ties, said Ava Kynell, a salesperson. “We’ve been very busy.”

But by far the longest lines were in the parking lots where frustrated motorists were forced to circle the malls numerous times before finding a space.


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