Exchanges give way to more post holiday spending

By Jeff Baughan

Special to The Times

PARKERSBURG — The day after Christmas, a day of exchanges with shopping continuing with the post holiday sales, wasn’t so much into exchanges as it was spending on Tuesday.

At Muberry Lane in Parkersburg, constant traffic through the door continued Tuesday much as it had at the start of the shopping.

Business was steady according to owner Tina Salmans.

“It was a good season for us,” she said. “But it’s been steady since the season preview we had the first week of November and it kept building.

“We weren’t real sure what to expect coming into the season but it has turned out to steady and you always like that.”

“It seems as though the consumer has a great deal of confidence in the economy right now,” said Hornor and Harrison owner David Boone. “We had a good season as well. People are feeling better about things and were a little freer with their money.”

Beverly Neff, owner, of Neff’s Country Loft, echoed what each had said about sales.

“It was a good season but everyone has to compete with the internet and the big stores.

“We as small business people, have to give the consumer a reason to come out, come into our stores and come back by giving them something the internet can’t give them; like good customer service in person, greeting them with a smile, having samples of food and drink to try, doing the little extras to make us stand out above the big corporates.”

What she said also, is what each stated, “we sold above and beyond the number of gift certificates we expected to.”

According to the Associated Press, experts had predicted better than usual shopping forecasts. This was due in part to seeing unemployment at a 17-year low. The AP report stated, according to Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting group Customer Growth Partners, shoppers spent at a pace unequaled since the Great Recession.

It added, according to Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, a predicted retail sales which would meet or exceed the trade group’s holiday forecast, which would mark the best performance since 2014.

“It was quite satisfying to see people come in for last-minute Christmas gifts and leave with something they wanted,” said Neff. “It was quite satisfying as a shopkeeper to have that happen.

“But we usually find if someone is coming in for an exchange, it’s usually because they already have the item or something very similar.”

Boone stated “the Patagonia brand (of clothing) was huge for us. The brand is outdoors clothing for hiking and skiing. It looks good, it’s warm and it’s comfortable.

“We picked up the Samuel Hubbard brand for shoes and it’s a dress casual and it produced an ‘unsneaker’ — it feels like a sneaker but it looks like a dress shoe — it was good as well,” he said. “It seems like new things, the new lines, always seems to create an interest and people are anxious to have something new.”

Salmans stated what she noticed was “people are travelling longer distances to come here. There were more out of town people in the store. I think because of that, consumer confidence in the economy is up as people are travelling to shop. But we also made a lot of trips to the post office to mail out of town orders.

“We sold an awful lot of items which were made in West Virginia and in the U.S.A. The hot thing was a red pick up with a Christmas tree in the bed of the truck,” she said. “We couldn’t keep it in the store. It just took off. I can’t tell you why but people loved it right off and everyone wanted it.”

Meanwhile, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stated consumers should know store policies when making post-holiday returns.

Consumers should also be aware of “all sales final” policies which is happening at the local KMart and Elder Beerman stores, which are closing in Vienna after the holiday season.

A purchase or gift receipt will quicken the process and ensure consumers receive the full purchased value of their return. Some stores may only offer store credit or a gift card without a receipt.

Other tips for an easy return process include:

∫ Make all returns as soon as possible.

∫ Know the store’s return/exchange deadline. Many are extended for holiday purchases.

∫ Wait until after post-Christmas sales to avoid long lines.

∫ Do not open or remove tags. Some stores do not accept returns opened or appear to be used.

∫ Bring identification. It may be necessary to complete the return.