Shoppers pack central Fla. malls on Christmas Eve



CENTRAL FLORIDA - Thousands of central Floridians packed local malls searching for last minute bargains.

Many shoppers said they decided to spend less on Christmas gifts this years, compared to last year.

"We try to make sure we budget well. I just put enough in my pocket and when I'm out, I'm out," said shopper Octavius Smith.

Kesha Smith went back to school this year to earn her degree and she said her daughter is now a freshman in college.

"We can't just go and blow it in the wind. We have to be smart with the way we spend," Smith said.

A market research firm with analysts at shopping malls across the nation found that while the foot traffic at malls is about the same as 2011, people seem to be spending less. To combat that, many stores are enticing shoppers with deep discounts.

"A couple of stores have some huge sales," said shopper Jessica Gomez. "Me, being a single mother, it helps… it helps a lot."

A company that tracks sales data said big discounts are up 2-3 percent compared to the same time last year.

"I got 50-percent off of a lot of stuff, that is pretty good," said shopper Bridgette Graham.

The discounts were enough to get some shoppers at the Florida Mall in the spending mood.

"In Pink, yes, I spent more than I was planning to," said Brenda Garcia.

Experts said once malls re-open after Christmas, retailers could be offering even steeper discounts, to as high as 80-percent off.