Coast Specialty Shops and Boutiques Ringing In Sales With Last Minute Shoppers

Susan Oustalet has been in business for 19 years as owner of The Gift Gallery, off Pass and DeBuys Roads in Gulfport.  This year, Oustalet says she's seen a lot of new customers, especially in the few days left before Christmas.

"The last several days have really been good, they've been real busy.  All the men forget Christmas is coming, and they always wait to the last minute.  But, we always seem to work it out for them."

According to the National Retail Federation, as of Wednesday, 35 million Americans admitted they hadn't started shopping.

Kathy Day is one of those people.

Although she did start some of her shopping before Saturday, Day still admits to being a last minute shopper.

"I know that if I wait to the last minute and I come here, I'm going to find something that's really great,"said Day.

Oustalet says gourmet gift baskets and cookie platters are two of her hottest holiday sellers.

The last minute rush has not only helped established specialty shops like The Gift Gallery, it's also been great for new shops like Olivia Raye, a Gulfport boutique.

Within the last week, owner Stacy Necaise said items like purses, jewelery and gift cards have been holiday must-haves.

"We just had a rush.  It seems like when one person comes in, they all come in in a group."

Beside walking out with a gift, Necaise says customers will find themselves having a little more time on their hands when they get home.

"We've been gift-wrapping everything so everybody likes that," said Necaise.

Whether picking up platters or purses, last minute gifts are definitely ringing in sales at coast businesses.

As for the stores shoppers will hit this holiday season, the National Retail Federation says discount stores, like Wal Mart, come out on top, followed by department stores, online shopping then speciality stores.

Gift cards appear to the item making it to the top of people's wish lists.