Residents pack Tri-City stores after Christmas

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldDecember 27, 2012 

Christmas has come and gone but Tri-City residents still were in stores Wednesday eager to spend.

December 26 often is the first chance for people to return holiday gifts they don't want or maybe exchange a piece of clothing for a different size.

However, store managers said returns and exchanges make up just part of their business the day after Christmas, as many people also go shopping with gift cards and also to take advantage of post-holiday sales.

"We definitely have solid traffic," said Trent Griffiths, store manager for Best Buy in Kennewick.

Johnnae Hatke, assistant store manager for Kohl's in Richland, said her store had a pretty typical day for the day after Christmas. Returns and exchanges made up about half of their business Wednesday.

"It's just a lot of wrong sizes (in clothing)," she said.

But the store also saw customers coming in to buy merchandise, particularly seasonal items that have been marked down, and a number of people were taking advantage of gift cards they received.

Griffiths said he actually expects shopping to pick up even more going into the weekend, as many people are traveling home after celebrating the holiday with family or friends.

Once they return, they'll mostly go for deals and additional things such as cables and memory cards they need with the new gadgets they've received.

But Best Buy also was busy processing exchanges for people who didn't receive quite what they hoped for.

"People get iPads for Christmas when they wanted an Android," Griffiths said. "They wanted 32 (gigabytes) instead of 16."

Mike Ayers, store director of the Fred Meyer in Kennewick, called it a low-key day, largely because of gift cards.

In previous years, he had to have two checkstands alone for processing the returns and exchanges. Gift cards have made that much less of a hassle.

"When in doubt, people just get a gift card," he said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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