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Day Before Christmas Sees Last Minute Shopping, Giving to Needy - 2002-12-24


Customers faced long lines at U.S. stores Tuesday as they finished their last-minute Christmas shopping. As some people were buying gifts for friends and family members, others provided gifts for underprivileged children.

Some shopping malls opened as early as 7 a.m. to attract those who had put off their holiday shopping until the last minute.

This Los Angeles shopper got an early start before the crowds arrived. "Now it's done. We're all set. Heading home before the rush," he said.

Another man at a nearby store was loading up with gifts for a children's charity. "These toys are for Toys for Tots, for kids who might not have something under the tree at Christmas," he explained. "So we thought we'd get out here and buy a bunch of stuff and donate it."

In Orange County, south of Los Angeles, hundreds of riders of Harley Davidson motorcycles strapped toys to their bikes and rode to a nearby children's hospital.

Fadi Soubra took part in the ride, and presented gifts to several ailing children. "It's a feeling that I have never felt before," he said. "You look at their eyes and the joy on their faces, it's something you cannot describe."

Despite the crowds at the malls, U.S. retailers have suffered one of their weakest selling seasons in decades. After a promising start in November, shoppers reduced their spending, apparently in response to economic uncertainties in the global market.

Retailers hope to make up for their losses in after-Christmas sales, when they plan to entice shoppers with even deeper discounts than they offered before Christmas.

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