Some shoppers say there are benefits in waiting until the last few days before Christmas to start a search for gifts.
"If you know where to shop, you can always find good deals," said Erin Allison Dietsch, a former Chattanoogan now living in Knoxville. "I am cutting it even closer this year because money is tight and getting the bills paid is my top priority."
Chattanoogan Brittany Shaw said she has waited until now to do the majority of her Christmas shopping because she is looking for bargains. She said she also enjoys the holiday crowds.
"There is something exhilarating about being part of the holiday hustle and bustle," she said about the shopping she'll do this week. "I still have to get presents for my dad, brother, one of my sisters and boyfriend. I have not wrapped the first gift. Hopefully, all of the gifts I hope to buy will still be available."
That's the downside of last-minute shopping, said Martin Nobles, manager at Belk, Hamilton Place.
"Many hot items have started disappearing off the racks," he said.
But shoppers can expect to find lots of merchandise on sale. "Right up to Christmas Eve, we'll continue to offer great deals," he said.
Nobles said Belk stocks bigger quantities of some items for holiday sales. "It's all based on seasonal needs," he said. "But it's some of those things, such as toys, that are flying off the shelves."
In recent weeks, sales in outerwear also have skyrocketed.
"While the weather has driven sales up, weather accessories and coats are always popular for gift-giving," Nobles said. "Many of those items are on sale as well."
Nobles and Dillard's manager Bill Graves said fragrance sets sell well during the holiday season.
"Basically, when you buy a fragrance, you get a nice product [a gift with purchase] for free," Graves said. "But here's the scoop on Christmas: If you're shopping for a 12-year-old, for example, most everything popular is likely gone by the last week of Christmas. And if some store has what you're looking for, it won't be discounted. I experienced that a few years ago when I waited until the last week before Christmas to buy a Wii."
Nonetheless, there's still a lot of clothing, accessories and other merchandise that will be priced to sell, Graves said. "We're marking stuff down daily."
Kohl's also is offering special last-minute sales this week, said Vicki Shamion, Kohl's senior vice president, public/community relations.
"Last-minute shoppers will be able to take advantage of tremendous deals for everyone on their lists, as well as holiday essentials for their wardrobes and homes," Shamion said.
Among the special sales this week will be a 15 percent to 60 percent markdown on many toys, Shamion said.