Last-minute shoppers pack Mall at Wellington Green

WELLINGTON, Fla. — The Mall at Wellington Green wrapped up the 2022 holiday shopping season with a busy day on Christmas Eve, as shoppers flocked to purchase last-minute gifts for their friends and family.

“Lots of cars for sure,” said Liana Torres, who came to get one more gift for a family member. “Super, super last minute, but it’s okay,” said Torres, chuckling.

Even our NewsChannel 5 crew circled the shopping mall for several minutes before finally finding a parking spot. And inside, the mall’s walkways weren’t any less packed than the streets outside.

“So many people pushing through, it’s like car traffic, but for people,” said Torres.

“This is too packed,” said Farrah Allam, who waited for 45 minutes with her friend, Haley Hamilton, outside Pandora to get a last-minute gift for Allam’s mother-in-law.

“That’s why we’re in this stupid long line,” joked Hamilton. “I regret my decisions.”

“I actually have never been to the mall on Christmas Eve so this is my first time,” added Allam.

The hustle and bustle may have been a hassle for shoppers, but for small business owners, the busy traffic was a good thing.

“It’s been amazing this year,” said Javier Perez, who owns Lifestyle Kitchens with his wife, Marianna. “We’ve been slammed, we’re all sleep-deprived because we’ve been pulling 12-hour shifts.”

For Javier and Marianna, his holiday shopping season is their Super Bowl.

“We prepare the whole year for the holiday season,” said Perez.

It’s a Super Bowl with higher stakes this year, after a year of uncertainty during COVID-19.

“It was a little scary during the whole COVID situation, but we’re happy everybody is back out shopping,” said Perez.

Perez’s outlook was echoed by even the crankiest of shoppers, like Hamilton, who joked good-naturedly complained about the crowds.

“I just don’t like getting stepped on and run into,” said Hamilton, chuckling, “but I am glad that everyone’s back out again.”

“It’s good to see everyone back out and normal again, I mean the lines suck, but it is what it is, it’s Christmas,” added Allam.

Even Torres agreed, adding it’s not about the gifts, but about the people you’re buying them for.

“It’s a time to be with family and get together,” said Torres.

The Mall at Wellington Green was open to last-minute shoppers until six o’clock Saturday night.

Many shoppers and business owners also described seeing an uptick in the number of shoppers inside the mall this year compared to last.