After-Christmas retail traffic brisk
Tis’ the season for returns and exchanges.
Cape Coral shoppers turned out this weekend in groups as large as before Christmas to return or exchange gifts they received from friends or family members.
Not unlike Thanksgiving’s Black Friday, the day after Christmas tends to be reserved for people wanting to switch out their gift. According to the National Retail Federation, 58.6 percent of American shoppers enclosed a gift receipt most of the time so their loved ones could engage in a seamless return.
The Wal-Mart at Del Prado Boulevard had people come and go by the second and the parking lot remained filled to capacity. The store expected so many returns, it opened one of its fire exits to accommodate a line of people.
Ken and Viki Mikusek, long-time Cape Coral residents, came to exchange a silver chain Viki had received for Christmas.
“We came to return this, it’s just a silver chain that was too short,” she said, adding that she’d get something else if the sales were right on Saturday. “If I see a good sale then yes.”
One of the Mikusek’s friends was returning a red bicycle because it squeaked when he rode it.
Hoping to capitalize on lower holiday sales and thousands of exchanges, many stores are offering discounts on many items. Even if people are exchanging their items, the after-holiday sales might motivate them to buy something else.
The NRF has forecasted that holiday sales will decline 1 percent from 2008 and shoppers are relying less on credit cards.
“As expected, shoppers have shown tremendous restraint in buying gifts with the money they already have, not the money they hope to have,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Strategic Initiatives at BIGresearch, the firm which conducts the holiday surveys, in a statement to NRF.
Even though many people will take advantage of return or exchange policies at local department stores, the NRF stated that 67.1 percent of gift recipients didn’t trade in their gift last year.
Christina Kay, visiting from Connecticut, came to Wal-Mart to exchange a string of pearls. She stressed that she wasn’t returning the items, simply getting a different length.
“I was just exchanging a necklace for a shorter length,” she said. Pushing a cart with two large bedding sets to Wal-Mart’s exchange line was Andre Brown, a Cape Coral resident. He received the sets for Christmas but wanted to return them to buy bedding at another store.
“I wanted to get it from Bed Bath and Beyond,” he said.