BROOMFIELD -- A shirtless teenage male model in lifeguard garb standing in front of Hollister Co. was all it took to lure Brooke Pelton, 17, into the FlatIron Crossing store that emulates a California surf shack.
With Christmas cash and gift cards burning in their pockets Wednesday, Pelton and her friends perused the mall on one of the busiest days of the year. She had a sneaky strategy if the lines were too long in stores.
"We just hide the stuff we want and come back a little later," Pelton said.
The National Retail Federation estimates holiday spending totals $586 billion, making it by far the biggest shopping season of the year. A survey from the federation also showed more people were eager this year and planned
The calendar helped boost holiday sales this year, said Heather Drake, senior marketing manager for FlatIron Crossing.
She said the holiday shopping season -- defined as the period between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas -- was 32 days long this year. That's two more days than last year, since Thanksgiving fell earlier in the month in 2012.
On Wednesday at FlatIron Crossing, lines at stores such as H&M and Forever 21 were forever long, snaking around racks of clothing.
"The day after Christmas keeps building and building every year," Drake said. "It's one of our strongest days of the year. It's awesome. There's lots of great energy and people carrying around lots of bags."
Kathy Leslie, of Lafayette, took her 3-year-old granddaughter Kira to Build-A-Bear to customize her own teddy bear. The little girl in sparkly pink shoes picked out a soft pink fleece teddy bear and adorned it with pink plastic sunglasses.
"Who knows, we might just name it Pinkie," Leslie said.
Over at the food court, Seth Arellano, 15, of Thornton, showed off his new kicks to his friends.
"I got these. They're beautiful, aren't they?" he said as he opened the box to his black-and-white Nike-brand Free Run 3 shoes.
At the Twenty Ninth Street mall in Boulder, stores also were bustling.
Cristina Villa walked alongside her 31/2 year-old daughter, Radha Lopez, who rode the new bike she got for Christmas. Villa's husband shopped for an iPad cover for his new tech toy.
Villa plans to escape snowy Boulder next week for the Bahamas, where she'll be doing her yoga teacher training.
Zoe Fiedler, 14, used up some of her gift cards Wednesday, buying shirts and candy at Target. Her favorite gift this year was a record player.
"I just like older things," she said. "I like vinyl more than CDs."
So far, she's found records at second-hand stores and Urban Outfitters. Among her favorite are albums from Green Day, The Lonely Island and Adele.
Veronica Battany, 15, also did some shopping Wednesday. But, by far, her favorite part of Christmas was giving a special gift to her 13-year-old brother who has been in and out of the hospital since this summer, suffering from a rare and yet-to-be diagnosed disease, she said.
She bought him a pair of hermit crabs as pets.
She named the little creatures for him. They are "Dr. Evil" and "Mini Me."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or email@example.com.