SANTA ANA (   —  Last-minute shoppers hit the malls in earnest Thursday evening, hours before the Christmas holiday was set to start.

The malls were also busy Thursday morning and afternoon, but the folks out this evening were cutting it especially close.

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KCAL9’s Stacey Butler said they were more like last-second shoppers.

She found more than a few folks who found time running out.

“I am doing last-minute Christmas shopping,” said David Lee, “I think the mall closes at six and I just finished now.”

With minutes to spare, a bunch of people scrambled through the South Coast Plaza Mall just before 6 o’clock and just before it was set to close.

Others lined up for groceries for the things they might have forgotten for the Christmas meal.

Butler asked one customer how crowded the store was.

“Not bad,” she said, “I was actually pretty much in and out.”

Luckily, Target didn’t shut its doors early. Procrastinators still had a place to go. They were open until 11 p.m.

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“I swear I didn’t even want to go in there today. All the aisles are like bare,” said one shopper.

“It’s a little bit more packed but we got through it,” said Estella Tapia who braved the Christmas Eve crowds.

She told Butler she found everything she was looking for.

“For my dog and my friends,” she said.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40 percent of holiday sales happen in the ten days before Christmas.

“We got Spirograph, we got guns,” said Jay Ozuna.

He says he waits until the last-minute every year because the good details become even more enticing.

“There’s a lot of deals in there, believe it or not like. We got like a lotta deals like 50 percent off,” he said.

And Butler reports if you’re really in a bind for a last-second gift, checkout Amazon on line.

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They’re offering free, two-hour delivery until midnight tonight.