Returning gifts, scouting new ones and spending time out the day after Christmas

  • Sue McCoo (left) cashes out a customer at Hilltop Consignment Galley on Wednesday. Retailers in downtown Concord on Wednesday said they weren’t experiencing the same mad-rush of shoppers they experianced in the days before Christmas. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 12/26/2018 5:40:44 PM

Keith Lemear and his daughter Melissa were on a mission.

They went from one shelf at Books-A-Million to the next, on the hunt for a fantasy novel Melissa was looking for. “It’s not here,” Lemear said, checking the title on his phone. “Maybe in the T’s?”

A pair of book-loving Manchester residents, the Lemears drove up to Concord for the day to cash in on the holiday haul of gift cards they’d received the day before. They were among dozens of people perusing the aisles on Wednesday.

Ah, Wednesday: ‘Twas the day after Christmas, and retailers were braced, anticipating the busy day of buys and returns they would face.

According to the National Retail Federation, 51 percent of shoppers said they’d be hitting stores this week to take advantage of post-holiday sales. About 27 percent of that traffic would be using their gift cards to make those transactions; 17 would be headed out to return or exchange unwanted gifts.

“We don’t mind going out,” Lemear said, standing in the fiction aisle. “The kids have the week off.”

Lemear said he likes getting gift cards for bookstores rather than risking someone getting him a book he doesn’t like. After BAM, his family was headed to Gibson’s Bookstore, where they’d utilize more gift cards.

They’d be joining other shoppers out on Main Street on Wednesday afternoon. Parking space in downtown was hard to find, but retailers said they weren’t experiencing the same mad-rush they experienced just days before.

“People want to spend some quality time with their families,” said Laura Miller, owner of Marketplace New England. “I think it’s just a nice day and people want to be out enjoying the sunshine.”

Granite State Candy Shoppe was looking to offload some of its holiday wares by advertising 75 percent off fall-themed goodies and 50 percent off Christmas treats.

Worker Matt Hooper, who bundled up candies for customers, said the deals hadn’t lured packs of shoppers yet.

“It’s just a typical day,” he said, ringing up a customer.

He figured some of the holiday candies might be around until next month, when the store gears up for one of its biggest revenue drivers: Valentines Day.

Even though it was fairly quiet, Sue McCoo said it’s worth it being open the day after Christmas.

McCoo owns three downtown stores, the Viking House, Capital Craftsmen Romance Jewelers, and the Hilltop Consignment Gallery. All three benefit from the holiday shopping season, especially the Viking House, she said.

“No one does Christmas like the Scandinavians,” she said, noting the store got some last-minute new inventory (which had been tied up in customs) gave them a boost.

McCoo agreed with Miller that the days after the holiday seemed to be more about quality time than deals. And if you have a big family you won’t get to see until later in the week, shopping the day after Christmas gives you more time to improvise.

“Maybe a cousin came up that you weren’t expecting, and now you need to get them a gift,” she said.

For some, the day was a chance to reflect on whether they got what they wanted.

Goodwill supervisor Jessica Chadborne said donations were steady, but not busier than usual. They were seeing lots of toys, she said, many of which were still in the box.

And McCoo said consignments were suspended during the days surrounding Christmas, but would resume shortly.

“Now is the time when people figure out what they have three of and pack it away for later,” she said.

Jenn Souza, who had just returned from the L.L. Bean outlet store, said she went into the store to find a present for her boyfriend on their way to Vermont.

She wasn’t particularly pleased with her purchase, but it didn’t seem to bother her that much. An English as a Second Language teacher in Rhode Island, she said she’s been working with a family of Syrian refugees recently. Hearing their stories has made her a more appreciative person, she said.

“I’m getting kind of tired of the retail thing,” she said. “By the time you get to my age, you have everything you really need,” she said.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAn drews.)

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