Post-holiday shopping could make retailers' holiday season brighter

Jim and Judy Hough from Johns Island wait in line at the Citadel Mall Target with a cart full of Christmas decorations Wednesday. Judy Hough was excited to take advantage of the price reductions for Christmas related items.

Decking the Malls

Apparently some people missed the news that Tuesday was, in fact, the Big Day.

On Wednesday, it was still looking a lot like Christmas at the stores — and on the roads, and in the mall parking lot. But the day that used to be a time of many happy returns is now just another holiday shopping day.

"I had one thing to bring back," said Lauren Clever, who was shopping at Citadel Mall with Cheryl Augustine. "We thought we'd just look around while we're here."

And buy a couple of things. As though they didn't get enough of this in the past month.

While retailers nationwide worry about sales being down for the year, locals say the shopping season doesn't end until after this week, and they're withholding judgment. It's the after-Christmas sales, in part, that keep them hopeful. But it's also a testament to that handy little invention called the gift card.

Somebody needs to put a warning label on those little handy credit card-like presents to let people know they reach extreme temperatures in a short amount of time. Danny McDougall said his daughters' gift cards were burning holes in their pockets, "and mine, too."

"They had to get some things they needed, clothes," McDougall said. "I'm just going along."

Aaron Boserup and Ashlyn Hunt got a gift card Tuesday, and spent it Wednesday at Target. Boserup said it was partly the urge to spend, but Hunt said they were still buying presents for other folks.

"It's always better to go spend money the day after Christmas," Hunt said.

Hitting Target first thing on Dec. 26 is becoming such a holiday tradition that somebody's going to have to put it on a calendar. The store, like some others, marks down all of its Christmas decorations in hopes that it doesn't have to send them back to the warehouse. Marcus Avellan, the West Ashley Target store team leader, said most folks get there before the doors open. With visions of yard ornaments dancing in their heads.

Judy Hough of Charleston had a cartload of holiday decor by early afternoon.

"I don't return gifts the day after Christmas, I just come in and buy stuff," Hough said. She bought decorations and wrapping paper and holiday peanuts — all 50 percent off. Nothing beats half-price Planter's, she noted.

Although this is high-demand stuff, most folks don't even bother taking these particular finds out of the wrapper. They are stored and reopened after Thanksgiving the next year, when they become early Christmas gifts.

"I get a big box and put them up," said Donica Dennis, "and next year it's a big surprise."

As the mall crawl continued around her, Leigh Burnett hung signs heralding the after-Christmas sales. Burnett, marketing director for Citadel Mall, said these sales and gift cards will help make it a merry Christmas season.

"A lot of that comes back this week," Burnett said. "This week can be even bigger than some of the weeks leading up to Christmas."

Then there is that other X-factor: the gift of green.

Victoria Everitt, Lauren Everitt and Katie Lester were packing in the packages Wednesday afternoon, a shopping safari that they attributed to the holidays.

"We got money from our grandfather," Lauren Everitt said.

As for the rest of the people crowding the stores, well, maybe they were just getting a jump on things. After all, there are only 364 shopping days left until Christmas.