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'I Did Spend A Lot Of Extra Money': Holiday Shopping Habits Impacted By Ongoing Pandemic

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA) — Ltanya Ray loves shopping for her daughter and granddaughter every Christmas, but she noticed there was something different about this year's purchases.

pandemic covid19 malls westfield valencia town center
VALENCIA, CA - NOVEMBER 30: A light crowd at the Westfield Valencia Town Center as sweeping new restrictions go into effect Monday in Los Angeles County as officials battle an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases. Malls are limited to 20 percent capacity, previously, they operated at 25 percent capacity. Photographed at Westfield Valencia Town Center Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 in Valencia, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

"I did spend a lot of extra money, it seems," she said.

Her holiday shopping has racked up a bigger bill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I try not to have buyer's remorse," she said. "And hopefully it won't kick in."

And after one of the roughest years on record, a lot of people report feeling the same impulse to spoil their loved ones just a little bit more.

"I'm being extra spoil-y this year," John Future said.

"Even the smallest gift can make someone happy," Leilani Ramirez said.

"The pandemic has really made me wanna spend more than I should," Erika Rubio said.

And experts said they were not surprised at all.

"People become very anxious about thinking about, you know, 'It's Christmas, I have to buy gifts,'" Carolina Osorio, a psychiatrist at Loma Linda Medical Center, said.

She said spending money on gifts might make some people feel better during an otherwise difficult time.

"I do feel better," Future said. "I'm happy right now."

But for others, like Ramirez who lost her job during the pandemic, buying an abundance of presents might make them feel much worse.

"I'm more in, like, survival mode," she said. "I'm like, 'We have to save.' You never know what's gonna happen."

"And so there is this fear of spending money, because, 'I don't know when I'm gonna go back to work,' or, you know, 'Am I going to be able to recover from this,'" Osorio said.

But, for Osorio, there is a gift for everyone in this year full of hardship if they choose to see it.

"Let's pause and realize all that we have," she said.

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