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Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Todd and Leslie Boren, of Salt Lake City, join other last-minute Christmas shoppers at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — Parker Slade said a busy work schedule kept his shopping errands at bay this season, so he was finishing up his Christmas errands Saturday morning at City Creek.

"I'd like to think I got up early enough to beat the crowds," said Slade, holding a Nordstrom shopping bag.

Rain and the occasional snow flurries did not deter shoppers across the valley as they embraced a last-minute push to pick up another bargain or secure a deal for themselves or family.

Diane Dimond, in town from Minneapolis to visit family, was at City Creek to exchange some items for her mother and meet friends for lunch on Saturday.

"It was insane (Friday)" she said, noting the size of the crowds. "Today it feels like a breeze."

Linda Wardell, City Creek's general manager, said Free Fare Friday generated a frenzy of shoppers who disembarked from TRAX by the hundreds to take advantage of the deal sponsored by UTA and Salt Lake City.

"There were a lot of people taking advantage of that," Wardell said, noting the crowds of people who used the free transit offer to explore City Creek's 112 stores and more than 17 dining establishments.

As the day wore on Saturday, the shopping center grew more packed and hectic.

Bob and Susan Muenzberg, who are in Salt Lake City from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to visit family, struck out early Saturday to hit the Apple store and other establishments. Before noon arrived, the family was done.

This busy holiday homestretch falls in line with shopping forecasts released by the National Retail Federation.

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A federation survey found only 12 percent of consumers had wrapped up Christmas shopping by Dec. 12. Another 6 percent said they expected to be shopping Christmas Eve.

The federation expects holiday shopping to be up by as much as 4 percent over last year, with sales figures reaching as high as $682 billion for November and December across the country.

Wardell said she's hearing positive feedback from retail outlets at City Creek.

"We're definitely wrapping up the holiday season on a high note," she said.