Midnight Madness: Shopping Around the Clock

Macy's and other stores stay open all night to attract procrastinators.

ByABC News
December 24, 2008, 9:33 AM

Dec. 24, 2008 — -- When it comes to Christmas shopping, every second counts -- even those post-midnight seconds.

While the rest of the country slept last night, a group of hearty shoppers made a mad dash to buy that perfect last-minute gift at a number of stores around the country that stayed open around the clock to capitalize on the holiday season.

"It's great. No one is hitting you with their bags or shoving you, said Nancy Black, a firefighter walking the aisles of Macy's flagship Herald Square store in New York well after midnight. "The salespeople are nice, much calmer, less stressed. Everyone is in a nice jovial mood."

"This 24-hour is nice for those who can't shop during regular hours," she said. "They should do this once a week. It's so convenient."

Vanessa Kuchler, an assistant academic administrator, was shopping with a friend who she hadn't seen in a long time.

"We can catch up without the pushing and shoving," she said.

It wasn't really about the last-minute discounts but "more about the lower stress experience," Kuchler said.

This year, 13 Macy's stores on the East Coast and in the Midwest stayed open around the clock during the final days leading up to Christmas. It's the third year the department store chain has pulled the all-nighters to take advantage of Americans' tendency to procrastinate. Eight stores stayed open late last year, and one -- in the Queens section of New York City -- stayed open in 2006.

Other chains are catching on. Toys "R" Us decided to keep its Times Square location open around the clock this year.

This year retailers are desperately trying to recover from what has so far been a dismal holiday season. Established stores are expected to post the worst performance numbers since 1969, the first year the International Council of Shopping Centers started keeping track.

The National Retail Federation said late last week that 20.5 percent of people had not yet started holiday shopping, with the biggest procrastinators being men and 18- to 34-year-olds.

Stores are trying everything to lure shoppers in during this recession. That includes last-minute sales, extra coupons and not closing the doors.