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Christmas shoppers busy checking off their lists in Aurora

Sue Lavianco Downers Grove was Christmas shopping Monday Chicago Premium Outlets mall Aurorwith her daughter Charlotte 5. | LindGirardi~For Sun-Times

Sue Lavianco, of Downers Grove, was Christmas shopping Monday at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora, with her daughter, Charlotte, 5. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 19, 2014 12:13PM

Christy Gallagher had a skip in her step after shopping Monday at the Chicago Premium Outlets mall in Aurora.

“I started Christmas shopping early, now all I have to do is wrap the gifts,” Gallagher said.

With a week left in the holiday shopping season, most of the shoppers acknowledged time was of the essence, with six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Gallagher, of Bolingbrook, was in company with a lot of the shoppers who started on Black Friday, but even so, it was too early to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.

“I am feeling slightly anxious. I have my lists and need to make sure everything is balanced for my three children, seven nephews and two nieces,” she said.

Retailers are accommodating shoppers in the final stretch of the holiday shopping season with discounts and longer hours.

Christa Kremer, director of marketing for the Chicago Premium Outlets, said stores have extended hours through Christmas Eve for shoppers looking to check any last-minute gift items off their lists.

“We are pleased with the holiday shopping season and look forward to welcoming many more shoppers to the center this weekend,” Kremer said.

Even though songstress Mariah Carey was belting out her holiday classic “All I want for Christmas Is You” over the shopping center’s outdoor public address system, shoppers seemed to fill the center’s stores in waves, fully aware this was the gift-giving season.

Karen Afseth, of Naperville, seemed at ease with her shopping list.

“I have just a few odds and ends to buy that will wrap up the shopping. I started on Black Friday,” Afseth said, wearing a red hand-knit hat to fight the cold.

“I am mostly shopping for immediate family, nephews and nieces and a few special friends,” she said. “For people who haven’t started their shopping, I would recommend gift cards.”

Sue Lavianco said her shopping days began right after Halloween but she was feeling the pinch to get gifts for out-of-state relatives in the mail so the packages arrive on time.

Monday was designated the busiest day of the year at U.S. post offices.

“I am feeling some pressure because we need to box, wrap and ship. You really never feel done,” said Lavianco, of Downers Grove.

Mary Sanford, of Lisle, said she has 14 grandchildren to shop for.

“I am not anywhere near done, but I am not feeling anxious at all,” said Sanford, in her third hour of shopping at the mall in Aurora. “This is a great time of the year, shopping for Christmas shouldn’t be stressful.”

“I am close to being done,” said Victor Hurtado, of Berwyn, who started shopping for family members about two weeks ago. “I have a couple of pairs of shoes and sweaters to get for nephews and nieces.”

Linda Hietpas, of Downers Grove, was feeling the holiday spirit while enjoying shopping with her son, Andy, on winter break from college.

“I share the gift-buying for our three children and relatives with my husband and we are almost done, but I wrap all of the gifts,” Hietpas said.

“We’ll be going to Sheboygan to celebrate Christmas Eve with my family and then we’ll go to Appleton to spend Christmas Day with my husband’s family and there is always snow in Wisconsin. The last five years I have had to work the day after Christmas, but if not, we’ll be shopping,” Hietpas said.

She admitted the quick turnaround between Thanksgiving and Christmas made things a little more busy than usual.

“With Thanksgiving so late this year, I just finally got some cookies and candies made for relatives, but I still have to make chocolate chip cookies for my dad,” Hietpas said.

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