Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2004

Post-holiday blitz: shoppers hit the bricks

December 30, 2004

Just after 7 p.m. Monday, Pam Baur and her daughter Elizabeth were spelunking for sales at Old Navy, 15310 Shawnee Mission Pkwy.

Pam and Elizabeth, who had been browsing the aisles of stores in the Shawnee Station shopping center, Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road, since about noon Monday, said they were on the last leg of a successful seven-hour shopping spree.

"We left our guys at home to go shopping," Pam said. "We've got shoppers fatigue really bad today."

Though the Baur's didn't make it to stores until Monday -- the pair said they needed a day to rest following a busy Christmas -- plenty of other shoppers buckled down for a post-holiday blitz at local stores.

Families like the Matteson's, who spent the weekend in Kansas City, Kan., visiting relatives, made one last shopping stop Sunday at Nebraska Furniture Mart in western Wyandotte County.

The store's motto is "sell cheap and tell the truth" so the Mattesons had only one goal in mind Sunday -- find quality goods at discounted prices.

"We wanted to look at computers, but the kids saw the video games and we've kind of gotten sidetracked," Jamie Matteson said. "I imagine we'll get over there sometime."

"It's usually a good day for shopping. I'm really tired of going, but we thought we might find something cheap."

The Baurs found bargains across the board, they said, especially on things like winter accessories and clothes.

We're just looking for good deals, nothing really in particular," Elizabeth said.

Bright red sale posters are plastered to front windows in nearly all of the neighboring stores:

After Christmas Sale. One Big Sale. Holiday Sale. After Holiday Sale. Christmas Clearance!

Marked-down wares include clothes, housewares and cell phones, and stores like Michael's advertised savings of up to 75 percent on holiday decorations.

With a rush of people looking for bargains or shopping to spend Christmas money right away, retailers reported having a hard time keeping the shelves tidy.

Rachel Engler, a manager at Pier 1 Imports, 15300 Shawnee Mission Pkwy., said the store was a zoo on Sunday.

"Yesterday was crazy," she said Monday. "When I came into work there were lines at the register. Our store's pretty much empty now -- we've sold everything."

Engler said discounted holiday merchandise was quickly heading out the door. There were a handful of returns, she said, but most other shoppers were coming in to spend Christmas gift cards.

Jeff Lind, Nebraska Furniture Mart store manager, said the flow of customer traffic at his Wyandotte County store had been steady if not impressive Sunday and Monday.

"From a sales standpoint, it's been quite strong," Lind said. "By far, we've had a lot of new sales."

Lind said his store, like its competitors, made a decision to heavily promote after Christmas sales.

The trend will last until a few days after the new year, he said.

"We're definitely trying to drive the market very hard," he said. "We've been very busy in electronics but every department has been busy."

Meanwhile, the holiday shopping blitz, spurred on by gift card redemptions and after Christmas specials, continued at retailers in Bonner Springs.

Though the gift-giving holidays have passed, several area stores stayed busy with large numbers of customers though the first part of this week.

Many shoppers were taking advantage of the sales while others took advantage of the opportunity that a holiday week and closed schools presented.

At Miller Pharmacy in Bonner Springs, employees saw no indication that the rush was over on Monday.

"We close in four hours, and I have about 10 hours of work to do right now," Larry Courtney said Monday afternoon.

Courtney said the days after Christmas are among the busiest of the year for the pharmacy.

Across town, at Wal-Mart, customers seemed eager to redeem gift cards they received.

"Oh my gosh, it's been crazy," manager Tracie Randall said.

Although she did not have any exact figures, Randall said an increasing number of people choose to give gift cards during holidays.

"I would definitely say it's more convenient to buy a gift card," she said. "Especially if you are not sure what someone wants."

Randall said Wal-Mart began recognizing the trend and catering to the market.

"Wal-Mart has put a lot of focus on that fact," she said. "We had them out everywhere."

Many people who chose to give gift cards this year may find it interesting to learn that shoppers overwhelmingly redeem the "gift for someone who does not know what they want" on electronics purchases. Randall said approximately 50 percent of gift cards that are redeemed go towards electronics purchases, including CDs and DVDs.

While the shopping trend may have fallen off a bit since last weekend, Randall said she expects things to stay busy at least through the weekend.

Staff Writers Joshua Roberts and Clark Corbin assisted in the preparation of this report.

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