Last-minute shoppers seek extra 'special' gifts amid tough year

With Santa on his way, families raced to department stores to get their last-minute gifts on Christmas Eve, hoping to make the holiday extra special. 

Inside Meijer in Waukesha, crisscrossing through the aisles, shopping carts doubled as Santa's sleigh, carrying all sorts of presents before the big day.

Justin Nielsen

"Definitely feel like it's more important this year due to the COVID and everything that's going on in the world," Justin Nielsen. "Definitely gotta be out here and give the Christmas spirit."

Faith Harper-King

"This is my baby's technically her first Christmas, so I'm shopping for baby dolls, toy trucks, bears, anything you can think of," said 
Faith Harper-King. 

Harper-King said she felt the need to go above and beyond in 2020.

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"With this coronavirus going on, I feel like I gotta go all out because I work all the time, so I want to make this my baby's special Christmas," she said. 

Stacy Maynard

She wasn't alone. Store Director Stacy Maynard said Christmas Eve 2020 was busier than most -- an effort to make Christmas special with presents, lights or a roast.

"We've had a lot of people really trying to make it special for their children," said Maynard. "They've missed out on a lot of vacations and things of that, so this is the time where they're trying to say, 'I want to make it special for them,' and they're going above and beyond to try and make it special."

For some, that meant giving gifts with gratitude and focusing on what makes the holiday so special.

"Just remember that the little things matter, and family and remembering that even though you can't see everybody, you still love them and you're still there," said a shopper.

The National Retail Federation expects Christmas spending to actually exceed that in 2019 -- between 3% and 5%, for a total around $760 billion.