Tuesday January 31st, 2023 6:45PM

Retailers hope for a big day after Christmas

By Ken Stanford, Jerry Gunn
GAINESVILLE - Experts predicted one of the biggest shopping days of the year Monday but predawn early bird shoppers were not waiting at the door in Gainesville.

Authorities say retailers are expected to cut prices the day after Christmas to entice consumers to head to stores to exchange gifts and hunt for bargains. Kohl's on Dawsonville Highway and the stores at Lakeshore Mall were free of big crowds. Two of the three anchor stores at Lakeshore - Belk and J.C. Penney - reported that there were no lines outside when they opened at 6:00. Kohl's opened at 5:00 a.m.

Kohl's offered an after Christmas' blitz' with prices up to 70 percent off on clothing and many other items; the day after Christmas was the day to buy holiday decorations..shoppers could stock up for next year at 70 percent off. The big box stores in Gainesville hoped the day after Christmas would be the third biggest shopping day of the season, since it fell on Monday instead of Sunday like last year.

Nationally December sales are reportedly up nearly 22 percent according to the national retail monitor Shoppertrak, but many shoppers apparently decided to just take it easy and come in later in the day.

The Mall entirely opened at 8:00 a.m. and retailer Matthew Bayer, manager of the Finish Line, a sports shoe and apparel store, says he started strong this season on Black Friday and expects to finish strong on this last shopping day and week of the season. Bayer said day after Christmas shopping has not quite caught on yet.

"I think today is a shopping day that is about to catch on," Bayer said. "A lot of people are about to realize that the deals on December 26th are every bit as good as the deals on Black Friday, if not better. Retailers have to move inventory to get ready for next year, people are starting to realize that and in the years ahead today will be as big as Black Friday."

"Shoppers have been out, they're willing to spend and it's been great to see," Bayer added. "We're bracing ourselves for a lot of returns and exchanges today, but we've got a really big sale going on and hopefully that will help us recover from some of the returns and exchanges we'll be doing."

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)
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