By Juli McDonald

NATICK (CBS) – In Christmas crunch time, those supply chain issues and delivery delays are music to the ear for brick and mortar stores. At the Natick Mall Wednesday night, the crowds came – eager to get their hands on their last-minute must-haves.

“I definitely knew that shopping in person was going to be my best bet as opposed to ordering online. Wait times can be varying between two weeks and a whole month to get your package,” one Sherborn shopper said.

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“He dropped me off, we did a multiple divide and conquer. We’re pretty much done finally,” an Acton couple explained.

The National Retail Federation expects holidays sales to continue to climb – predicting an 11% increase this year. Shoppers are spending more money and spending more time in stores.

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“I think people feel a lot safer communicating and just outside life. It’s good to have conversations with people and tell them about the candy. Rather than last year – in and out – you got what you got and left,” employee Allison Collins recalled.

But while there may be more people stepping up to the counter, a lot of places could use some help behind them. If Santa’s workshop has some elves to spare – workers are wanted everywhere.

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“I’m lucky if I have one staff member with me. Often, it’s me, myself, and I. I’m playing different roles but it’s all in fun. I try to work with whatever space I have in my heart to keep it happy. It’s a great experience,” the manager and photographer of the mall’s magical North Pole photo experience said.

Juli McDonald