After all the gifts were opened and the stockings taken down, hundreds of shoppers headed out on Monday to catch the last few bargains of the year at retailers in Rockingham.
The day after Christmas brought many residents out to return unwanted gifts, spend gift cards, and get a head start on next year’s holiday sales. Among the busiest of those retail establishments was Walmart, as a steady stream of customers made its way through the aisles and checkouts.
“It’s actually not too bad this year,” said shopper Janet Richardson, as she waited in line with her children, 13-year old Savannah, and 10-year-old David. “We’re just returning some clothes that didn’t fit.”
Richardson joined many others in Walmart on Monday as lines formed amidst shopping carts full of returned merchandise.
“I’ve worked with Walmart for five years, on and off,” said associate Jamie Tucker, “and what they’ll do is have several registers open for returns to keep big crowds away from Customer Service. That way we can keep things running smoothly.”
Tijuana McNeil, along with son Tommy, said it was their second time in Walmart that day, as she maneuvered a cart through the crowd at about 12:30 p.m. Despite the crowds, McNeil said, the process wasn’t as painful as in years past. “Although,” McNeil said with a laugh, “if I’d have waited until after Christmas, I could have probably saved a thousand dollars.”
According to an article from Time.com, “The retail research firm ShopperTrak predicted that foot traffic on December 26 at brick-and-mortar stores would be up 60 percent compared to the day after Christmas in 2010. In a recent American Express survey, 57 percent of Americans said they planned on shopping on December 26, versus 43 percent on the day after Christmas a year ago.”
Those statistics seemed to prove accurate for many retail establishments in Richmond County.
Some people were willing to brave the crowds, but refused to stand in long return lines.
“No, I will not stand in those lines,” said Walmart customer Jennifer Lampley, who chose instead to take advantage of the day-after bargains on Christmas items like cards and wrapping paper.At Walmart, nearly all wrapping paper had been marked down to half price.
But the retail giant wasn’t the only business dropping its prices. Several other stores held doorbuster sales to clear out the last of their inventory for the year.
“Our crew came in at 4 a.m. this morning,” said JCPenney Manager Terry Greene. “We’re very thankful for them (arriving to work early) because we were able to offer many markdowns on merchandise from all departments of the store.”
JCPenney offered prices up to 60 percent off on Monday for its annual After-Christmas Sale.
“We opened our doors at 6 a.m.,” Greene said, “and people continued to come in steadily after that.”
The cashiers at the Penney store remained happy and enthusiastic as they greeted customers, and the extra effort seemed to pay off.
“This is much better than having to wait an hour here and an hour there,” said Angie Mayo, a JCPenney customer waiting in the lengthy return line to exchange a pair of jeans for her son.
In addition to making returns, many shoppers already had their minds set on next year.
“I’m just checking out the sales and looking for next year’s Christmas gifts,” said Monique Smith. “It’s always good to get a head start.”
Not only that, but Time.com reported that millions of Americans intentionally delayed shopping until after Christmas because of tight budgets. “Last year,” the article said, “e-retail spending increased 22 percent on December 26 (a Sunday in 2010) and 56 percent on December 27 (a Monday, when people were back at work) compared to 2009.”
No matter the reason, local stores are taking advantage of the crowds and lowering prices for the last week of 2011.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.