12/27/12 — Retail stores deal with few post-Christmas returns

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Retail stores deal with few post-Christmas returns

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on December 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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Brenda Pollock, right, and Lisa Jones look over jewelry as they search for post-holiday deals in Belk on Wednesday. Along with taking advantage of sale specials, many shoppers were also using gift cards received on Christmas.

Some retail workers had a less-than-busy day as the usual flow of returns the day after Christmas was more of a trickle this year -- which could be a good thing depending on what side of the counter you're on.

"We typically get more," said Brian Bradford, shift manager at Walmart.

The Christmas shopping season had been on track with a strong Black Friday showing, although it slowed down as the season progressed and consumers were hit with news of shootings, storms and the fiscal cliff. Local returns reflected that trend, and Wednesday's bleak weather didn't help motivate unhappy gift recipients.

"It's been slower than normal on returns," said Assistant Store Manager Steve Twiddy of Lowe's. "We've had a slower year. I figure that by the weekend, they'll be back up."

As for what people return, the items could be anything, Twiddy said, from tools that don't do the job or toys that didn't excite.

JCPenney, with a return policy of anytime, anything, anywhere, also saw a slow morning of returns, but store manager Karen Witt sees it picking up during the week.

"The first week is pretty hectic, but it usually slows down afterward," she said.

Or, the slow morning could mean that everyone enjoyed their gifts, she said. Ms. Witt usually sees people returning clothes and shoes as gift-giving customers can't always tell the correct size of the recipient.

Some shoppers were already returning to the stores in preparation for next year's Christmas season as most major retailers marked their decorative Christmas inventories down 30 to 75 percent. Other stores, such as Lowe's, still have some of their holiday specials on the shelves.

Gwyn Price, a shopper at Belk, was taking advantage of the closing of the season as she carefully chose the best Santa, snowman and nutcracker from a large display.

"I'm already done for next year, and I got everything for less than $100," she said. "I saw (the decorations) this year, and I got some as gifts. I enjoyed them, and the price was right."