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Shopping after Christmas, Philly-area shoppers find it’s a time for deals

“It’s a typical after Christmas experience,” John Bedard, 75, of Minneapolis said. “Money to spend and bargains to find.”

Justin Sok, 1, has his photo taken by family members outside of the Louis Vuitton store in the King of Prussia Mall on the day after Christmas. The National Retail Federation called the week after Christmas "an attractive time" for bargains.
Justin Sok, 1, has his photo taken by family members outside of the Louis Vuitton store in the King of Prussia Mall on the day after Christmas. The National Retail Federation called the week after Christmas "an attractive time" for bargains.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

Skylar Park, 13, was at the King of Prussia mall the day after Christmas with her mother, searching for the pieces to her perfect New Year’s Eve outfit.

They had been successful so far on Wednesday morning, holding shopping bags with a pair of shoes from Vans along with sparkly tights and a jean jacket from American Eagle Outfitters. Her mother, Tara, of Media, called herself the Uber driver who was along for the ride.

“I love it here,” Skylar said, referring to the King of Prussia Mall, the country’s largest for retail sales space. “It has more stores than the other malls around us.”

The Parks were among the crowd of shoppers the day after Christmas looking to spend their gift cards or money from the holidays, exchange clothes that may not fit or return items they did not want, or simply spend a day off from school or work shopping with family, all while sales were still on.

Skylar hoped to spend the rest of the Christmas money from her grandmother on a sparkly shirt, maybe from Urban Outfitters, to go with a black velvet skirt she had at home.

Holiday sales this season were expected to reach from $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion, a 4.3 to 4.8 percent rise from the same period last year, according to an annual holiday survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Though only 4 percent of shoppers planned to buy their last gift after Christmas, the NRF called the week after Christmas “an attractive time for many holiday shoppers.”

More than half of the people who were planning to shop during this time said they were hoping to benefit from sales; 27 percent anticipated being out to use gift cards and 17 percent said they would return or exchange unwanted gifts, the NRF and Prosper survey found.

“Some are already looking to the days after Christmas to find treasures in the clearance bins,” said Phil Rist, Prosper executive vice president of strategy. “They are making sure to research everything from shipping deadlines to the best deals.”

Philadelphia-area shoppers planned to spend an average of $1,279 per household compared with the $1,536 U.S. average and $1,621 Northeast U.S. average, according to a Deloitte holiday survey of about 400 Philly consumers and a national sample of 4,036 shoppers.

Most local shoppers also said they would complete their shopping later in the season, with 66 percent saying they would finish shopping in December or January, Deloitte found.

Of course, many brick-and-mortar retailers have been having problems competing with online firms. Consumers spent $110.49 billion online from Nov. 1 through Dec. 19, up from $95.1 billion in 2017, according to Adobe Analytics.

Among some best-selling items on Amazon this year are the Instant Pot, Hatchimals and Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film Packs.

And on Cyber Monday, the top five selling products were Fingelrings, L.O.L. Surprise!, Nintendo Switch, Laptops (Dell and Apple) and LG TVs, according to Adobe Analytics.

But King of Prussia continues to buck the online trend. John Bedard, 75, of Minneapolis, went to the mall with his wife, daughter and granddaughters the day after Christmas as part of their family tradition. He was searching for a gift card, preferable to Trader Joe’s, for his daughter to thank her for hosting them for the holiday.

When they get to the mall, the family always stops at Crate and Barrel first. And this year, his granddaughters were planning to spend their Christmas money, including gift cards, at Sephora, American Eagle and Athleta, he said.

“It’s a typical after-Christmas experience,” Bedard said. “Money to spend and bargains to find.”

Total gift card spending this year is expected to reach $29.9 billion, an 8.3 percent increase from last year’s estimated $27.6 billion, and on average, people bought four gifts cards worth $49 each, the NRF found.

The NRF survey also found that 38 percent of consumers already purchased gift cards this year as gifts and when asked how they would spend their gift cards if they received one, 42 percent of people said they would wait for a good sale.

Ashley Krick, 31, stopped by one of the King of Prussia mall’s directories to find GameStop, and guest service manager Matthew LeMay pointed Krick, of Reading, and her family in the right direction. Her 11-year-old son, Ethan Shuman, who was wearing an Eagles sweatshirt, was excited to spend his $50 GameStop gift card, though he didn’t know what exactly he would buy.

They were at the mall “to spend money,” as Krick put it bluntly, but also as a “family day” while people have the day off.

LeMay spent the day helping people who were looking to find Lululemon, Athleta, GameStop, Sephora, Dick’s, Ann Taylor Loft, Foot Locker, Anthropologie, and plenty more.

“It’s been busy,” LeMay said. “People talk about the decline of the mall with the upswing in online shopping, but we really don’t see that here.”

Frank Flores, 59, with his daughters Lael, 17, and Franci, 14, of Harleysville, were about to ask for help finding the American Eagle Aerie store, but the directory was already displaying the directions there.

So off they went toward Aerie, on their first day-after-Christmas shopping experience.

“We just came to go shop around,” Lael said.

Then her father added: “And look for good deals.”