Certificates, exchanges, sales bring crowds back to the stores

By Corene Brisendine

Shoppers hit the stores early Wednesday searching for after-Christmas deals.

At Manhattan Town Center, cars had already filled the parking area in front of the food court and were spilling over into Dillards parking by early in the morning, with some stores opening as much as three hours before the usual 10 a.m time. As the morning progressed, more and more shoppers hit the mall for those after-Christmas deals.

Angel Nellis drove from Junction City to let her 9-year-old daughter, Connie Rose, spend the gift cards she got for Christmas.

“They were burning a hole in her pocket,” Angel said.

Connie Rose had already hit three stores, buying a purse, two t-shirts from Aeropostale and a pair of black tennis shoes with neon green soles. At 9:30 a.m., Connie Rose still had more gift cards to spend and was wasting no time moving to the next stop on her post-Christmas shopping spree.

Sharon Strifler drove from Westmoreland to hit the calendar kiosk up for its after-Christmas bargains.

“I like the day after Christmas better because of the deals,” Strifler said. “I like it because everything is half off.”

The kiosk was not the only place to find great deals. Stores posted 30 to 50 percent off posters in the windows and free-standing floor signs at the entrances of their shops lining the halls.

Brian Ruiz, store manager of JC Penney, said traditionally, the day after Christmas is a bigger shopping day than a day for returns. He said the store opened at 7 a.m. to accommodate the bargain hunters and the associates had already marked all their holiday items down. Ruiz said while they wouldn’t have any figures in for Wednesday, sales are typically comparable to a normal busy shopping day in December.

“I would say it’s because people have received gift cards or cash for Christmas, but businesses like JC Penney offer huge discounts on the Christmas items,” he said. “We have staffed for a heavy day.”

Ruiz said while the day was still early, he expected more customers to fill the aisles.

Lana Berger of Waterville and Tim Segle of Manhattan were not only shopping for the great deals, but also hoping to find wedding rings priced right. Berger said they plan to marry in June, and now is a good time to find deals on things for the wedding, too.

“We kind of got here late,” Berger said. “So, I don’t know if we missed any early sales. Some of it seemed to be picked over.”

While the mall filled with more shoppers than with people seeking returns. Walmart was a different scene. Shoppers combed the front four aisles where Christmas items had been marked down by 50 percent, emptying shelf after shelf. But at the customer service counter, a line formed early with shoppers seeking to return or exchange gifts they had received the day before.

With so many shoppers, self checkout lanes and traditional checkout lanes also filled up as customers not only bought left-over Christmas decorations, but also big ticket items such as desk sets and electronics.

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