EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 27, 2013

Shoppers flock to stores returning gifts

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — The day after Christmas has turned into a bit of a tradition for Lawrence resident Lynne Bernard.

“It seems me and my daughter go to the mall on this day every year,” said Bernard, who was shopping at the Mall of Rockingham Park in Salem.

It doesn’t have a catchy name like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but yesterday was still a busy day at stores throughout the Merrimack Valley. Whether it was returning their Christmas gifts, or using their new gift cards, stores were prepared for an influx of shoppers.

“We consider the Christmas season to last right until the New Year,” said Ryan Kearney, General Counsel for the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “When people come in returning gifts, there are incidental sales as a result.”

Stores adjusted their hours in preparation for the rush. Kohl’s in North Andover, Plaistow and Salem opened their doors at 5 a.m. The Mall of Rockingham Park was open two hours earlier than normal.

At Best Buy in Salem, they opened yesterday at 7 a.m., three hours earlier than normal. But foot traffic was light yesterday morning.

“We started off slow,” said David St. Cyr, general manager at the Salem Best Buy. “As expected, our return and exchange line started to pick up as the day progresses. We also see a lot of gift card use today as well.”

Gift card usage was also popular at Target, where spokesman Luis Guitart said yesterday was the most popular day of the year to redeem gift cards.

“The day after Christmas is a busy shopping day for Target, and we know many guests are looking for discounted holiday décor, want to redeem gift cards and are self-gifting,” Guitart said.

Kearney said deals can still be had after the holiday.

“There’s always inventory that didn’t sell,” he said. “The savvy shopper can get a deal on that after the holidays.”

That’s exactly what Wilmington shopper Ivy Co, 22, had in mind when going to the Mall at Rockingham Park.

“I hear there’s some good deals today,” she said. “So hopefully I can find something here.”

For Bernard, she had several returns to make, but she said shopping now is a lot easier than before Christmas.

“Everyone’s a lot more stressed then,” she said. “(Yesterday) everyone is more at ease. People are buying things because they want to, not because they have to.”

But for others, it’s getting add-ons to their Christmas gifts.

“My son got an iPad for Christmas,” said Jim McDaniel of Newton, N.H. “Now we’re here to get them a case.”

For others it was a strict exchange.

“We called around and this was the only mall that had the computer we’re looking for,” said Debbie McCann of Dover, N.H.

McCann said she tried to get to the mall before the crowds.

“It’s quiet here now,” McCann said yesterday morning. “But I’m sure it will get busy later.”

Kearney said he was projecting a 3.5 percent increase in holiday sales throughout the state.

“That’s better than last year, when we had about a 3 percent increase,” he said. “That’s great considering we had a shortened holiday season, which had some weekends plagued with bad weather. We think some of that will be made up this weekend.”