GLENDALE (CBSLA) – With less than a week until Christmas, last-minute shoppers packed into shopping centers and malls around Los Angeles on Sunday.

The mad dash to secure gifts for loved ones was underway, as thousands of Angelenos milled about the Glendale Galleria, looking for the perfect gift for that special someone, with little time to spare.

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One shopper, Adriana Gamboa, was surprised with how crowded the mall was, noting that it looked similar to pre-pandemic times. “It’s super crowded,” she said. “I was not expecting it.” Gamboa also did some shopping in San Diego earlier this month, where she encountered much of the same – throngs of people doing their best Saint Nick impressions, loading up on gifts and goodies.

Sunny Singh, another Glendale Galleria shopper relayed just one of the many stresses that patrons felt, “It’s been stressful. A lot of rush in there. It’s been difficult – a lot of people!”

A year removed from the social distancing instituted by many shop-owners, it was a little unsettling for some to see the so many stores packed wall-to-wall, especially with the winter surge of COVID-19 looming, and the Omicron variant ramping up with over 40 cases in Los Angeles County as of Sunday.

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“With the cases going up – everywhere – I think this is a little bit scary to see so many people crowded together,” Singh continued.

Despite this, the crowds still gathered by the masses to do the last bit of weekend Christmas shopping available before Christmas Day on Saturday.

Most of the individuals, despite new COVID-19 restrictions and a statewide mask mandate, are just happy to be able to spend time with families for the holidays again.

When asked what she was most excited about this holiday, Gamboa indicated that it was the simple things taken for granted in the past, “Just being together. Last year we couldn’t do Christmas together, so this Christmas, we’re gonna see my parents.”

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Shopping experts have recommended shopping online for gifts that don’t need to be shipped, in order to avoid crowds and the shipping delays plaguing Americans all over the nation this holiday season.