Day-after-Christmas shoppers splurge
Returns, exchanges, bring the bustle to the mall
THE DAY AFTER Christmas - the words alone bring on exhaustion.
Perhaps the living room carpet is still cluttered with shredded wrapping paper, or the kitchen counter is serving as purgatory for dirty dishes longing for their rightful home in the cupboard.
What, just me?
But for many Philadelphians, the day after Christmas is a jackpot faux-holiday, with high stakes for those wanting to return unwanted gifts or cash in on deep day-after discounts.
Ken Keen is store manager at the Burlington Coat Factory in the Gallery at Market East. He's been on this merry-go-round many times before. The shopping spree that is the day after the Yuletide is properly planned well ahead of time at Burlington Coat Factory, with beefed up sales staff and store security expecting the scramble.
"We get a lot of returns, but it's normal after Christmas to see returns when someone doesn't like a gift. Lots of people just do an exchange and they end up repurchasing anyway. So, sales are usually pretty favorable the day after Christmas, even with all the returns," he said.
Asked if this year showed any big difference in sales from last, Keen said he was a little surprised.
"We're actually much busier today than I expected. On Christmas Eve we ran a 19 percent increase over last year," he said.
Stores in the Gallery are undergoing a transformation. With a new $230 million mixed-use development project coming to the complex, some existing retail outlets are preparing for an exit.
One example is f.y.e., or for your entertainment, which is closing its doors Jan. 28.
Yesterday, rap music was thumping, keeping energized those in a long line for the registers that snaked all throughout the store.
Giant signs advertised in-store clearance sales and massive mark-downs of everything in the store, including as much as 75 percent off.
"The company started early with 'everything must go,' so we started about the second week of December by liquidating everything," said Felix Valdez, the store manager on duty.
"Everything was 30 to 75 percent off for the first two weeks of December. Today, the day after Christmas, we pushed everything 40 to 75 percent off the whole store.
"Just look at that line. We put signs everywhere and traffic has increased by 25 percent Everybody is just fighting in for sales."
But with the shuttering of one store comes the successful arrival of another.
Jason Schmidt, general store manager at Century 21 in Center City, said that business has been booming since its grand opening Oct. 28.
"Traffic's been good overall from the day we opened. I'm seeing a lot of shopping in addition to the usual customer returns. It's been good so far. We're pleased," said Schmidt.
Century 21 launches its end-of-season clearance sale on Monday, where shoppers can find goods at even more of a discounted price throughout the building. It's the first store outside of the North Jersey/New York metro area to open in Philly.