That's good news for Stoneridge Shopping Center, which has been jammed with customers since Black Friday, only 31 days ago.
The International Council of Shopping Centers forecasts a 3.8% year-over-year growth in retail sales for this holiday season. Consumers are expected to spend on average $728.40 on gifts and other holiday-related items.
With hours extended from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. today, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow and even opening at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Betsy Edwards -- the mall's director of marketing and business development -- expects Stoneridge to host the largest shopping crowds of the year before closing at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Even with online sales eating into traditional brick-and-mortar store sales, forecasts are for 96% of shoppers to make a purchase this weekend from a retailer who has both a physical and an online presence.
An estimated 91% of shoppers will buy at physical locations, also taking advantage of omnichannel retailers with 40% of them buying online and picking up in-store. An added benefit for Stoneridge Mall stores is that 81% of those shoppers plan to make additional purchases when collecting their items.
"Saturday will be a great time to shop for last-minute gifts if you don't mind the hustle and bustle at the mall," Edwards said. "But then that's the fun part of Christmas shopping."
Santa Claus is also extending his hours in the Grand Court. Although his appointment book is already filled, his helpers left plenty of room in between those scheduled time for "walk-ins" -- if they don't mind waiting in line.
"No child will be left behind," Edwards promised. "Even if the mall is closing, he and his helpers will stay behind to make sure every child gets a turn to sit on Santa's lap and give him a message."
Edwards acknowledged that parking will be difficult, although the mall has a huge amount of free parking. Perhaps the best kept secret is that the top floor of the Sears parking deck is often the last to fill, so Edwards recommends driving there first.
There's also an eight-passenger shopper shuttle that roams the mall's parking lots to take passengers to the stores and, more importantly, carry them and their packages back to their cars. The oversized, roofed golf cart will operate from 1-9 p.m. today and tomorrow and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It can be found in front of California Pizza Kitchen, Men's Wearhouse, Subway, Buckhorn Grill and Forever 21. Shoppers can also flag it down and board at any time if there's room.
Edwards, who is in her third year of handling marketing at Stoneridge, also has a message for shoppers:
Don't leave valuables in your car. If you carry an armful of packages to your car and plan to return to the stores, move your car first to another spot. This will fool "prying eyes" into thinking you're leaving the mall, and they'll turn their attention elsewhere.
As we move into the last weekend before the holidays, let me join Edwards and the mall's new general manager, Damien Osip, in wishing our Pleasanton Weekly readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.