PALM DESERT, Calif. -

It's the day before Christmas and that means the stores are packed.  A lot of people waiting to the last minute to find that perfect gift and retailers are counting on it.

At Westfield Palm Desert the shopping season started out slow.

Steve Cone, the owner of Moccasin West, says, "It was slow, it was a little sluggish.  I think because of the long gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas."

As the holiday got closer, people started to open their wallets.

"They finally got the memo last Friday and we are thrilled we are doing real well," said Cone.

Franchesca Forrer, the marketing director of Westfield Palm Desert, says, "We've had one of the best weekends we've had in year."

There are a lot of last minute customers, the National Retail Federation says 10% of shoppers waited to buy until Christmas Eve this year.

Juan Raya is doing some late minute shopping, "I am actually buying some late Christmas gifts for my family that came over from Switzerland, so I am pretty much running late."

The number one reason why people said they were shopping last minute was because of work.
 
Shanyce English, a shopper, says, "I've been working every single day up to this day and now we are leaving out of town for Christmas so, this is one of my only days to get some presents."

Raya says, "Work is keeping me busy, so today was the day that I got off."

With stores like Macy's open 72 hours straight, shoppers are finding it easy to put down the tinsel and squeeze in spending.

Thomas Martin, a shopper, says, "Been working, didn't have time to shop and finally got a day off, figured I'd get it all done.  I got it all done in about 2 hours."

There is an advantage to waiting until the last minute, all of the deals.  Stores are offering some pretty big discounts including 50%, 60%, 70% even 80% off.

"Oh I love it.  I love it so much, I am a good bargain shopper, but if I find something I really like I will buy it for sure," says English.

"Everyone always steps up and gives a wonderful deal during the holidays but, these are things that I haven't seen before.  This is really new," said Forrer.

Shoppers are certainly noticing.

"Its been crazy, cause they are pretty much running out of stuff that I was looking for, but I am seeing a lot of discounts," said Raya.

To avoid the crowds, some people headed to downtown Palm Springs.
 
Martin says, "It's been pretty easy.  There is not quite as many people walking around down here than in the big box stores, that's why I came down here.  It's a lot easier, a lot less hassle, figure I give the money to local merchants."

"Its been a tough year but we finally pulled the rabbit out of the hat," said Cone.

Westfield Palm Desert will close at 6pm and reopen at 7am on December 26th.