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Returns, sales keep shopping in season

December 27, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Santa's station in the center of Valley Mall shut down after Christmas Eve, but the holiday shopping season isn't over.

Shoppers flooded the mall Tuesday to return Christmas presents, browse sales and cash in their gift cards.

Mary Miller had returns to make Tuesday. She stood in a long line at one of the service centers in Bon-Ton waiting to return a pair of jeans she bought her husband for Christmas. The size was wrong, she said.

Miller started her day at Kmart, she said. After returning the jeans at the mall, she had to go to Wal-Mart, Miller said.

"Everybody goes to Wal-Mart," she said.

Everywhere she went, the lines were bad, Miller said. Since she was already out and about, Miller also wanted to get some shopping done. Day-after-Christmas sales offered good deals, she said.

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Crystal Morris drove to Valley Mall from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., to return and exchange clothes she bought others for Christmas. She also had picked out wrong sizes, Morris said.

Cora Lee Martin of Clear Spring loves shopping the day after Christmas.

"It's crowded, but there's always room for one more," Martin said. On Tuesday morning, she bought a purse for herself, but didn't have any Christmas returns.

"Most of my gifts were gift cards, which I love," she said.

Martin isn't the only shopper who likes gift cards.

Estimates show that gift card sales will reach $24.81 billion this year, which is $6 billion more than shoppers spent on gift cards last year, according to a press release from NRF, a retail trade association.

At Bon-Ton, several customers sorted through deeply discounted Christmas items, which were set out on display tables.

Out in the mall, Hickory Farms and a booth selling Christmas ornaments both advertised 50-percent-off sales.

At Prime Outlets, the day after Christmas is one of the top three shopping days, marketing manager Rachia Green said.

Christmas Eve is the busiest shopping day of the year at Prime Outlets, followed by Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - Green said. Stores opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday, two hours early, so shoppers could get an early start.

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