Shoppers looking for after-Christmas bargains

by Clay Neely


After-Christmas shoppers Jessica Holt and Jennifer Williams leave Plato’s Closet Thursday with their purchases. 

Shopping center parking lots were crowded around Newnan on Thursday as many retailers opened their doors as early as 5 a.m., welcoming consumers returning Christmas items and helping them take advantage of numerous after-Christmas sales.

The crowds also packed area eateries along Bullsboro Drive at lunchtime.

Shelly Hendrix of LaGrange started her shopping in the late morning. “My son did the returns and I did the shopping,” laughed Hendrix, who was leaving. “Just by accident, I found some shoes I had wanted.”

Academy Sports and Outdoors senior communications coordinator Eric Herrera noted that the day after Christmas is always a busy time for the store.

“The day after Christmas is always busy for us. People are coming in for primarily gift card redemptions, exchanges and returns,” said Herrera. “It’s always really high the day after Christmas, but for us, it’s always about serving the customers. We pride ourselves on being able to offer that service quickly and easily. People that want a new size or the right color — that’s what we’re here for and we strive to make it as easy as possible.”

At JC Penney, Judith Furlong and her daughter were exchanging an item. “We have only one exchange but no returns. The item we’re exchanging was the wrong size, but that’s easy to do when you’re buying for someone else,” said Furlong. “We’ve been to Dillards, Best Buy and Dick’s. We got started around 10 this morning. The crowds have been pretty good, but Best Buy was really crowded.”

Sue Mundy was also at JC Penney “doing a little bit of returning since they left the sensor on my son’s pants,” Mundy said. “They have some great deals but we still have to go to Dick’s, Belk and a few other places.”

Meanwhile, at Best Buy, general manager Jeremy Crow acknowledged that the store was having a busy day.

“Today we’ve seen a lot of buying and returning. In order to encourage people to do more shopping with us, we’re currently running an after-Christmas promotion where if a customer spends over $100 dollars, we’ll give them a $15 dollar gift card,” said Crow.

“We also dropped the prices on a lot of clearance and open items. It’s certainly a big return day, and it always is, but we have our staff ready for anything. We’ll also be opening at 7 a.m. every day until after New Year’s Day — this way, people can do their exchanges in the morning without all the crowds,” said Crow.

At the recently-opened Plato’s Closet, sales representative Melanie Busby noted a high volume of sales instead of returns or exchanges.

“I’ve seen a lot of buying today, which is surprising. It’s noon and we’re already up to 35 buys and we only opened at 10,” said Busby.

ShopperTrak — the world’s largest counter and analyzer of retail shopper traffic — reported that for the week of Dec. 16 to Dec. 22, in-store retail sales decreased by 3.1 percent from the same week last year. Retail brick-and-mortar shopper traffic decreased by 21.2 percent, compared to the same time period in 2012. According to Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder, the growing popularity of November shopping has been at the expense of retail activity in December. He expects retail sales today and this weekend to be "brisk," partly because of gift recipients redeeming their gift cards.

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