BUCKHANNON- Despite all the hype about Black Friday, Christmas shopping totals were a disappointment to the retail industry this year. Many shoppers - including some in this region - saved part of their money to spend after Christmas, when the prices of many items are slashed.
Employees of Goody's in Buckhannon said the store's sales, traffic, returns and exchanges have been on track with post-holiday projections. Store associates said they expect a busy weekend because of a holiday sale.
Today, customers can get 60 percent off many items in the store. Already marked down clearance items are also discounted by 20 percent. Whether a customer is coming to shop, browse or to return or exchange an item, this weekend is when Goody's anticipates the most post-holiday traffic because many shoppers work through the week.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Athalea McMillion, left, returns a purse to Goody’s in Buckhannon Thursday, the day after Christmas. Sales Associate Carley Gregory performs the transaction.
"We issue a receipt with every purchase," Goody's District Manager Randy Kreigel said. "The customer can bring it back with that receipt whenever it is convenient to them. We'd be more than happy to return that item or exchange it. We also can give gift receipts."
When asked if there are any restrictions on the company's return policy, Kreigel said, "No restrictions. We want our customers to stay happy."
Peebles is offering an additional 20 percent off of their red line (clearance) items and up to 75 percent off of all Christmas items.
Rebecca Thompson, one of the assistant managers of the Elkins Peebles store, said that while many stores have seen an influx of returns from the holiday shopping season, the Elkins location has mostly seen exchanges.
"We haven't had as many returns so far this year," she said. "Some of that may be due to how much we promote gift receipts."
Gift receipts, Thompson explained, work like regular receipts except they do not list the price of an item (as it is deemed rude to show the price to the receiver of the gift), revealing only the item itself and the date to exchange by.
"It's easier to return an item and it allows the item to be returned at the price that the customer bought it," said Thompson.
Mary Claypool, a store manager at Sears in Buckhannon, reported that there are a few more shoppers than ordinary at this time of year. She also said Sears is running a post-holiday special that began Thursday.
Through Tuesday, customers can get up to 25 percent off Kenmore appliances. Appliances costing more than $499 qualify for special 18-month financing or an extra 15 percent off when customers use their Sears card.
Claypool said the store also accepts returns, but that certain items have different time limits. Depending on what the item is, customers have between 30 to 90 days to return it.
Elkins Big Lots manager David Perry said the store was packed Thursday with shoppers.
"Our Christmas sales figures were not as good as last year's, which I think is weather-related," Perry said Thursday. "But people are packed into the store today, hunting for bargains."
Perry said the Elkins Big Lots has put video games at clearance prices because the store is going to stop selling them for a while.
"We have a few other items that we will be clearancing, but the announcement of those items is still a few days off," Perry said.
Perry said the amount of returns has been light.
"Most folks seem to enjoy the gifts they receive from Big Lots," Perry said. "Our return policy is 30 days from purchase with a receipt when in the original box with all the parts. Purchases from November on can be returned with the original receipt until Jan. 15."
Vickie Roidt, owner of Main Line Books in downtown Elkins, said she did not have many returned items either.
"We are offering 25 percent off Christmas-themed items and calendars," Roidt said. "We just don't have many Christmas-themed items left."
Elkins Wal-Mart Store Manager Bob Smith said his store is a bit more liberal this time of year with some exchanges and refunds. Receipts are preferred but not always necessary for all exchanges.
"We understand that a lot of the items are gifts so we understand that people don't always have the receipt," Smith said.
This season's returns have been on par with years past, he said. The items being returned vary and are across the board, with no single item being returned more than anything else.
"Christmas was mid-week this year and we expect the amount of returns to pick up this weekend when people are off work," said Smith.
Wal-Mart is currently offering 50 to 75 percent off many different Christmas items across the store. Smith said he is trying to move the Christmas merchandise to make room for the January and February stuff to move in.
"We are getting ready to focus on tax season along with the football bowls and playoffs," added Smith. "This is also when people make New Year's resolutions, so we are focusing on healthy living as well."
Kathy Graham, a customer service representative for K-Mart in Elkins, said the store has seen a number of various items being returned or exchanged, particularly toys and clothes.
"We've been pretty swamped," she said. "People have been coming and going all day."
K-Mart Store Manager Veto Mootz said that in order to make a return customers must have a receipt, particularly for electronic items.
"If a customer returns a store brand item, we give them a gift card in exchange for it," said Mootz. "If a customer buys a gift with one of our Shop-Your-Way Rewards Cards we are able to track the purchase back for several months and it makes it easier for us to keep track of purchases and inventory."
Mootz said he has seen a trend of more people making exchanges before the holiday, which helps prevent store congestion at the end of the year.
- Staff writers Beth Christian Broschart, Chad Clem, Melissa Toothman and Tim MacVean contributed to this story.