After a day of feasting and exchanging gifts, shoppers took to the stores once again Thursday to redeem gift cards, make returns and take advantage of the final sales of the year.
Though parking was tight and lines were generally long in Central Park and at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, several shoppers said the crowds were not as bad as they were expecting.
“I thought it would be kind of crazy like Black Friday, but it’s not that bad,” said Ada Ells while shopping at Old Navy.
Jenny Harlett had a similar impression at Target.
“I’m surprised it’s not crazier, honestly,” she said.
At some stores, including Walmart and Kohl’s, the return lines stretched longer than those at checkout as people wasted no time in correcting gifting mishaps.
Dawn Crothers spent some time at the mall “kinda just tweaking a few little gifts” and taking advantage of Victoria’s Secret perfume sales.
Making a return drew Lauren Scott to Best Buy, though she usually tries to avoid the after-Christmas shopping scene.
“The return line was more than I thought it would be,” she said. “But I’m [also] looking at checking out, and I don’t even know if I want to spend anything because I don’t want to wait in the line.”
Ryan Mead planned to hit a few stores, including Best Buy, Target, Toys “R” Us and GameStop, to make returns and hunt for deals with his kids.
Some stores opened their doors early Thursday morning to attract early-bird shoppers and accommodate the extra foot traffic.
Deal seekers were already waiting at the door when Old Navy opened at 7 a.m., two hours earlier than normal.
Old Navy manager Jessica Glasshoff said business had been steady all day with a lot of returns and exchanges, although the store was falling short of sales goals at midday.
“It doesn’t look too good,” Glasshoff said. “We’re down, but we have all day to pick up.”
However, even recent issues with a data-security breach that impacted approximately 40 million credit- and debit-card accounts did not deter Target shoppers.
It was the 50 percent off seasonal items sale that brought Theresa Stevenson to Target. She bought a Mickey Mouse ornament and a color-in stocking for her grandson.
“[There are] all kinds of good stuff,” Stevenson said.
“We’re actually very busy. From a sales perspective, we are meeting or exceeding our expectations right now,” said Terrell Thomas, general manager of the Target in Central Park. “We anticipate it will hold out throughout the day.”
National statistics also reflected this range of retail success.
Sales were up 2.7 percent at U.S. mall stores last week compared to the same week in 2012, according the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group for mall owners, but ShopperTrak, a retail research firm, reported a 3.1 percent fall in general retail shopping for the week before Christmas compared to the same period last year.
Many shoppers turned to their computers to benefit from holiday sales without having to leave the comfort of home and battle the crowds. Online spending was up 10 percent to $38.91 billion between Nov. 2 and Sunday, according to research firm comScore.
For savvy shoppers like Ells, the day after Christmas is all about finding the best deals possible.
“We didn’t do a real big Christmas this year, so [with] all that extra money, I’m just thinking of gifts in a couple of months,” Ells said. “I’m thinking of birthdays in the future, just taking advantage of these really good sales to save money.”
—The Virginian–Pilot and Associated Press provided information for this story.
Bridget Balch: 540/374-5417