Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 27, 2012

Local shoppers head back to stores to spend holiday cash

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — While the day after Christmas has traditionally been a big day for gift returns, retailers are now seeing more and more shoppers coming in to spend gift cards and Christmas cash.

Steve Warf, manager of J.C. Penney’s at the Mercer Mall, said Wednesday he has seen a shift in the type of business his store does following the holidays.

“We are seeing more gift cards being used and more sales than returns now,” Warf said. “Historically, this day is our busiest day for returns, but now it has become more busy as a sales day rather than an exchange day. We do a good amount of business in the days after Christmas now because people are coming in with money to spend.”

Warf said the combination of bad weather and people returning to work from the holidays has decreased some post-holiday business, but he anticipates seeing many customers coming to exchange or purchase items this weekend.

“It has slowed down a little today due to the weather,” Warf said. “The mall as a whole seems pretty slow today. We have a lot of after Christmas sales, but we see the most people when the day after Christmas is also a day off work. Today is also not as busy as it has been in the past because people are heading back to work following Christmas. Last year, Christmas was on a Sunday, and we saw a lot of business that Monday because a lot of people had that day off from work. If the weather has cleared by then, I expect to see a lot of people coming in this weekend because they will be off work.”

Paula Peyton of Princeton and her daughter came to the Mercer Mall to make returns and purchase some items.

“My mother bought some remote control cars for my sons, but they were broken when we opened them,” Peyton said. “We came to exchange them, but they didn’t have any left so we just returned them instead for cash. My daughter also has had her eye on this orange shirt for a while, so she bought it with some money she had saved up as well as her Christmas money. She’s probably going to spend more of her Christmas money while she’s here, but I’m going to be saving mine.”

Tina Spencer of Bluefield came to return some extra gifts she received.

“I ordered some items online, and the first time I ordered them it said the order didn’t go through,” Spencer said. “I ordered them a second time, and then I received the items I had ordered twice. I’m here to exchange the second set of items and get them removed from my credit card.”

Nellie Smith of Tazewell, Va., was also exchanging gifts and making new purchases.

“I was exchanging some things I had bought for myself that I just didn’t like,” she said. “I’m also looking for some bargains. There are always good sales after Christmas, and it helps me stretch my Christmas money further. I’m surprised there aren’t more people out here today. I always try to come and shop on the day after Christmas because of the sales.”

Patty Jones of Princeton is already preparing for next Christmas.

“I’m trying to redecorate my Christmas tree for next year, and there are a lot of really good sales on Christmas decorations,” Jones said. “Most of the time, I shop the day after Christmas. I have already bought new bulbs and some ornaments. A lot of my tree decorations are old, and a lot of the stuff I need is half-price today. I’m not spending my Christmas money just yet, though I am getting some things for my children for next Christmas.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com