By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – Christmas was just a break for shoppers, many of whom headed back to stores Thursday to get refunds, make exchanges and spend cash and gift cards they received.
At Walmart on North Gloster Street in Tupelo, most Christmas items were marked down 50 percent and filled a small section near the front of the store near the pharmacy.
Shoppers were loading up on candy, wrapping paper, gift boxes, blankets, clothing and any other holiday-related merchandise. At least a half-dozen customers had their shopping carts filled to the brim by 7 a.m.
One customer was making her second trip back to the store; she had filled one basket, paid for the items and loaded her car.
“Getting stuff for next year,” she said. “Can’t beat it.”
At The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, shoppers were out in force when the doors opened at 8 a.m.
“We’ve been pretty busy,” said Cindy Childs, the mall’s marketing director. “People are spending their Christmas cash and making exchanges, but there haven’t been many refunds so far.”
With some retail reports indicating a lackluster shopping season, many retailers are pulling out the stops to lure more customers.
Said the Christian Science Monitor, “December is a month filled with hundreds of sales, but what most shoppers don’t know is that the best sales of the month don’t begin until after Christmas. December 26 is when retailers begin to frantically discount the items they couldn’t sell earlier in the month.”
With sales of 50 percent or more, stores were pulling out the stops. The span between Thanksgiving and Christmas was a week less than last year, and retailers hope to make up for lost sales, even as it impacts profit.
“I didn’t have anything to refund, but I got some gift cards I’m going to use,” said Taylor Sullivan, who said she got about $150 worth of gift cards for various outlets.
Judith Perrigo operates three kiosks in the mall, selling Christmas ornaments, scarves and “sportulas,” spatulas emblazoned with sports team logos.
“Business has been good all year,” she said as customers scooped up 1⁄2-off ornaments to get engraved. “We’ll have the ornaments for a few more days, then we’ll swap it out with sunglasses. Today, there seem to be a lot of people out spending good money.”