Stores still bustling day after Christmas

lmorris@macon.comDecember 26, 2012 

At least 10 carts at the Macon Target store were filled about midday Wednesday with items going back on the shelves.

Not only were people returning or exchanging what Santa brought them, but they were turning in gift cards for stuff they didn’t get for Christmas.

“We are getting quite a bit of returns and we’re also seeing just a lot of exchanges as well, for some unwanted gifts,” said Target store manager Virlecia Haywood. “Also a lot of gift card purchases as well. We get a lot of kids coming in and using their gift cards in electronics.”

Folks also were stocking up on Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations for next year at the store in the Eisenhower Crossing shopping center. The merchandise was marked half off the regular price, and it was the busiest department at the store.

“We are getting a lot of sales with that,” Haywood said.

Shopper Robert Shimler was one of those in the seasonal department.

“I’m buying (Christmas) lights for my daughter,” Shimler said. “They put up a lot of stuff.”

He said the main reason he was out shopping Wednesday is because he was off from work.

Haywood said she expects to see more shoppers this weekend because many people went back to work Wednesday.

Jamie Daugherty from Gray was shopping with her daughters and other family at Macon Mall.

“They got gift cards from Justice from their grandparents for Christmas,” Daugherty said about her daughters and a niece. Justice is a store specializing in clothes for young girls. “They couldn’t wait. They had to come out and spend their gift cards.”

Conner Daugherty, 8, said she bought clothes and earrings.

“She said, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever picked out anything on my own,’” Jamie Daugherty said. “I just let her pick out whatever she wanted.”

Shakeil Hall, assistant manager at Underground by Journeys at the mall, said customers were also using gift cards and making exchanges to get the right size or color they wanted. The store sells shoes and handbags.

The store had not been very busy by 1 p.m.

“A lot of people have to work today,” Hall said. “About 5 or 6 (p.m.), I expect more people.”

Eunice Gross of Newark, N.J., said she was at the mall looking to use some coupons and find some goodies on sale. She is spending the holidays with her daughter, who lives in Kathleen.

Just in case anyone wants to get a head start on the next big shopping event, Target workers were busily stocking Valentine’s Day cards.

Nationally, the final week of December can account for about 15 percent of the month’s sales for retailers.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is sticking to its forecast for sales in the November and December period to be up 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year, spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said Wednesday. That’s more than a percentage point lower than the growth in each of the past two years, and the smallest increase since 2009 when sales were up just 0.3 percent.

The trade group’s definition of holiday sales also includes food and building supplies, Grannis said.

“Stores have a big week ahead, and it’s still too early to know how the holiday season fared, at this point,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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