12/27/09 — Shopping 'til they drop

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Shopping 'til they drop

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 27, 2009 1:50 AM

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Lannetta Lockhart, right, shops for a ring at J.C. Penney with the help of Cryste Benitez on Saturday. Miss Lockhart was buying the ring with a gift card she got for Christmas. Across the county and the nation, shoppers cashed in their Christmas loot at sales at stores of all sorts and found plenty of deals, just not always the selection they had hoped for.

Parking spaces were at a premium Saturday as shoppers swarmed Wayne County stores in hopes of finding bargains .

Shoppers said they were excited about the many sales -- some offering as much as 75 percent off, while store managers said they were pleased with the turnout.

Joyce Sauls of Grantham had already been in JC Penney once, buying a birthday present, a leather coat, for her daughter. After putting the present in her car, she headed back toward the store, this time clutching a sales paper.

"My other daughter wants a pea coat since she didn't get one for Christmas," she said. "They (the sales) seem pretty good to me. We just got some stuff 60 percent off."

"Then you got that extra $15 off," added Shannon Daniels, also of Grantham, who was shopping with Mrs. Sauls.

Mrs. Sauls said she also shopped on the Friday after Thanksgiving, mostly buying for her children. Saturday's crowd was not as thick as the ones on "Black Friday," she said.

"To me it was worse because everywhere I went it was packed, but I didn't get out until later. I didn't get up early in the morning this year like I did last year. It (the day after Christmas) is busy, but not too bad. It is tolerable. I like the prices."

Prior to shopping at JC Penney, Mrs. Sauls said she had bought an $80 Christmas tree for $20 at Lowe's.

"I am just trying to spend my money that I got for Christmas," Ms. Daniels said. "Just whatever catches my eye. I was not out for Black Friday, but I was out the week prior to Christmas and actually I think the prices are better now than what they were prior to now."

Mrs. Sauls said they probably would be out shopping until their "feet got too tired."

Donald Kelly of Calypso said he didn't start shopping until about 11:30 a.m.

"No I didn't get up early," he said. "I did the Christmas Eve thing. I walked in and I walked out. They have some good buys out here, some real good buys. I'm getting this $200 coat for $79, a wool coat."

Kelly said the prices, were "good," with markdowns up to 75 percent off.

JC Penney Manager Karen Witt said she was happy with the response to the advertised sales.

"This is nothing like Black Friday, but it is not supposed to be. When we opened on Black Friday we probably filled the store with 400 or 500 people within the first 20 minutes. When we opened this morning at 5 o'clock we had customers and we were busy. I would say 100. They were here for the 75 percent off Christmas (items). They were looking for the doorbusters and the sales."

The Saturday sales are a prelude to January -- a "big clearance month," to make way for spring items, she said.

Coats have been in high demand as well as pearls and gold, she said.

"We are holding our own with our sales," she said. "We are down just a little bit, but with that market we have been planning a loss all year and we are beating that plan. I am happy with it. When I compare myself with my fellow stores I am doing good.

"It has been a good season. People have been, for the most part, pretty happy. For all purposes, this has been a good season."

Mary Jo Creech of the Shine community was resting on a bench in Berkeley Mall, taking a break.

"I just came up here to get some after-Christmas bargains. I do a lot of my Christmas for next year," she said. "I got here at 7 o'clock. I went to Target first, then I went to Michael's, then I went to Kmart, then I came here.

"Most everything has been half price and some have been 75 percent off so I have found some really good stuff."

Ms. Creech said she bought Christmas cards for next year and ornaments for her tree at half-price..

Bronnie Quinn of Goldsboro was holding a coat for his wife while she shopped at Belk.

"We are doing some looking and a little bit of shopping. Deals, there are good deals. I found some dress pants for $17 for my boys and found this nice full-length dress coat for about $125 that was about $350, I think. That is about 60 percent off. I think that is a good deal.

"I usually stay home, but she convinced me to get out with her today. There is a good crowd and there are plenty of sales. I just think that the economy is picking up."

Regina Parnell, a manager at Sears, said the store had enjoyed a strong shopping season.

"We have had an outstanding season," she said. "Sales have been great and we are very pleased with the day-after-Christmas sales.

"Right now we are getting ready to start our winter clearance sales that has a lot to do with apparel. There will be a few closeouts in the store in appliance and home improvements, just our typical clearance events. We had hot buys this morning until noon and we will have a lot of markdowns next week in the apparel area to eliminate the fall and winter goods."

High-efficiency products in appliances and plasma and LCD televisions over 40 inches have been popular sales buys, she said.

Don Guy of Calypso was siting on a bench waiting for his wife, daughter and grandson.

"I should have stayed home because I came and found what I needed and if I had drove my truck I could have gone home and got in my recliner and slept," he said.

Guy said he wasn't expecting to get out the mall until late afternoon.

By mid-morning, the once-full Christmas section at Lowe's had been reduced to only a smattering of decorations, thanks in large part to a 75-percent-off sale.

Sam and Ann Pike of Kinston were among the customers picking over the final offerings. Their flat cart was stacked with three small trees, boxes of lights and ornaments and bows.

"Anything that says Christmas on it, she likes it," Pike said. "It is a big savings compared to before Christmas and at 75 percent off you can't beat it."

Mrs. Pike said she would likely end up spending about $250.

"I am going to break him saving him money," she said. "We hadn't planned on buying any Christmas. I had sworn off for this year, but we came in and I saw this and it was just too good a deal to pass up."

Tom Sparks, sales manager for Lowe's, said that Christmas ornaments, appliances and storage were the top movers Saturday.

"We opened at 7 a.m. and so far today we have had over 850 customers come through and cash out. That does not include how many come in in pairs. We have had 850 paying customers as of 12:30.

"We are trending better this year than last year even with the economy. On Black Friday, we were the number-one selling store in the region, which is 73 stores. In the southwest division, which is well over 300 stores, we were the No. 3 store, so the people in Goldsboro were shopping and we were ready for them and had a great time serving the customers."