By Kimberly Schupp - email
NEW YORK (RNN) - 'Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the mall, all the shoppers were shopping, not wanting to stall ...
While many people may look at the day after Christmas as a chance to recover from a busy holiday season, others jump to return those unwanted gifts and cash in on their gift cards.
Last year, shoppers spent $7.9 billion the day after Christmas, making it the No. 2 performing day of the season, according to ShopperTrak.
This year, 43 percent of people surveyed by American Express Spending & Saving Tracker said they planned to make a purchase on Dec. 26.
Experts warn that returning all those gifts should be handled with care. And all those $9.99 sweaters from the Gap might seem like a good idea today, but could make your New Year not so happy.
Tips for making returns
Madison Riley, managing director of Kurt Salmon Associates, said these tips should help after-Christmas shoppers looking to exchange or get rid of unwanted gifts.
Don't hurry: Feel free to wait a few days, just not too long.
Think of possibilities: Could it be re-gifted, or even donated?
Have paperwork on hand: Make sure you have a gift receipt or a tag on the item.
Don't tear into anything if you don't want to keep it: The nicer the item looks, the easier it will be to return.
Accept the gift: Not all stores offer a full refund, but still offer store credit.
"Everyone overspends and overbuys," said Fugen Neziroglu, clinical director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, NY.
The day after Christmas is prime time for shoppers to use their gift cards, hunt for deals on Christmas decorations and get a preview of next season's merchandise.
Marketing columnist Barbara Schenck, who writes for MSN Business on Main, said the day after Christmas is a good time for retailers finishing off one year to drive sales for the following year.
It's like priming the pump.
"Retailers should not only reward their staff for the hard work they put into that year, but offer bounce back offers to customers enforcing their return in the later months," Schenck said.
One trick retailers use to lure people back into the stores and perhaps spend more than they planned is gift cards. More than tTwo-thirds of Americans will purchase gift cards this year, according to the American Retail Federation.
Retailers anticipate that when you walk in to redeem your card, you might see something else you'd like to buy.
"Gift cards are very active during post-Christmas because of great deals and the clearance mode of many stores," said Madison Riley, managing director of Kurt Salmon Associates.
Gift card recipients should be careful to use their cards before the expiration date.
"The retailer's point of view is that they will yield a sale or turn of inventory the day after Christmas," Riley said. "It's always been a return day, it's a normal time for many shoppers to come back and sift through the deals."
Discounts and clearance items are always attention grabbing, but some consumers go overboard with their day-after purchases.
If you find that you can't part with gifts or pass up the deals and are running out of space to store them, you might be a hoarder.
"Many hoarders, or compulsive buyers, look at Christmas as a time to fit in," Neziroglu said. "Hoarders have good intentions, but somewhere between the store and their house they decided to keep it or lose it, and have to go buy more. The big difference being others give it away and they do not."
Hoarders often refuse to exchange gifts or get rid of items because they hold some kind of sentimental attachment to them.
Many hoarders tell themselves that they can't pass up the bargains on decor, Christmas cards and holiday items.
"Basements, attics and garages are perfect for storage, but quantity is everything; if it's getting in the way, get some organizational help," Neziroglu said.
With all those rock-bottom after-Christmas discounts out there, feel free to get more bang for your buck. Just don't go overboard. There's always next year.
I had to exclaim, as I drove out of sight, Happy hunting to all, and to all a good buy!
Copyright 2010 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.