Friday's long lines, crowded parking lots and emptying shelves may have nothing on Christmas Eve, according to a new study from MasterCard International.
Noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 24 traditionally is the busiest shopping period of the year, the company says. That's when the most transactions are processed through payment cards.
"Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, we may see procrastinating shoppers out in full force on Friday, Dec. 23 and until stores close on Saturday, Dec. 24," said Rob Reeg, chief technology officer at MasterCard.
To avoid such a crunch, MasterCard suggests that shoppers try to buy in the early mornings or late evenings, periods when the fewest transactions are processed, MasterCard says.
The most "shopper-friendly day" for this season is likely to be this Sunday, the company says, citing a detailed analysis of historical transaction data.