Santa's gone... let the bargains begin - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Santa's gone... let the bargains begin

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December 26, 2007

Albany -- Christmas is behind us, but the holiday shopping season isn't over.  Did you get a gift card this year?  Many of us did, and a lot of folks headed to the stores to use them Wednesday.  Couple that with after Christmas bargains, and retailers are hoping to put a big finish on what was just a so-so holiday sales season for many.

Traffic at the Mall was actually kind of slower than what you would expect to see the day after Christmas, but around lunch time and throughout the afternoon the parking lots started filling up with shoppers eager to spend their Christmas loot, via the ever popular gift card.

'Twas the day after Christmas at the Albany Mall and shoppers were scurrying for sales...big and small. Oh yeah...lot's of good sales. For Kayleigh Mackey and Tiffany Gleason, their day at the mall was made easy thanks to two popular Christmas gifts allowing them to shop to till they drop.

"We got gift cards and money, so we're just shopping," Mackey said.

Amid less than stellar Christmas sales this year, analysts predict gift cards could net an estimated $60 billion in Holiday related purchases for American retailers.

"Gift cards have been the most popular item," said Blush Co-owner Anna Condit. At Blush, a clothing boutique in Lee County, a steady flow of customers spent the day cashing in those gift cards on clothing and accessories. "It's been busy especially with the gift cards because we've sold so many."

Back at the Albany where shoppers began filing in by mid-morning, retailers are hoping that steady flow will equal big sales before the New Year. "Hopefully things will pick up after lunch. We're looking forward to it being a good a day and the mall doesn't close until nine," said Ola Abdullah of Abraham's Leather. 

Meaning there's still plenty of time to spend those gift cards while shopping for a bargain with those after-Christmas sales.  Now again here's something that you may not know about gift cards. When you purchase gift card, it is not counted as a sale by retailers. That only goes into the books after a purchase is made. So with the after Christmas sales underway, if you have that gift card, now might be the time to let it burn a hole in your pocket, and get there and spend it before you forget about it-- the mistake I have made in the past.     

And while those gift cards and after-Christmas sales may lure you into the stores, a lot of people spent the day in line for returns and exchanges.  One customer told us the lines are just part of Christmas. 

"The satellite for my radio antennae was too big, so we either had to get an adapter or get a smaller antenna," said Megan Fennell. "Is what she wanted for Christmas? "Yes, yes it was."

So is it annoying to make an exchange? "It's not. It's just part of Christmas," Megan says.

Many major retailers like Circuit City list return policies on their websites.  They'll answer most of the questions, including how long after the date of purchase you have to exchange your item and whether you'll have to pay a restocking fee.   

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