Last-minute shoppers fill Tampa Bay area stores

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BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay area shoppers flocked to stores Friday night for last-minute holiday preparations.

Shoppers found gridlock in the Westfield Brandon Mall parking lot. Some people even sat in their cars for around an hour.

Once inside, lines greeted patrons.

Despite all that, last-minute shoppers told News Channel 8 it’s worth every minute.

Justin Ebanks, of Apollo Beach, admitted he’s a bit of a procrastinator.  He showed News Channel 8 the gifts he bought his family.

Tashima Cintron, of Clair-Mel City, walked into Toys “R” Us with a cart full of presents. “I just didn’t have the time and now I’m caught up,” she said.

Rob Modesto, of Brandon, said he didn’t have a strategy.

“It was the suspense,” Laiza Modesto said. “We waited until the last minute and we love it.”

Liseth Prisco is visiting from New York. “It’s not that crazy,” she said. “It’s crazier in New York.”

The National Retail Federation projects Americans will spend nearly $656 billion this holiday season. That’s a 3.5 percent increase over last year.

Kelsey Axon, visiting from Seattle, said she spent around $100 on Friday alone.

“I tried to watch how much I’m spending,” said Lee Axom, who is visiting from Germany. “They know that.”

Axom stressed the word “tried.” “Well, when you’re a grandma and you haven’t seen them in a while, it does make a difference,” she said.

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