Briana Aleson’s eyes glittered with thoughts of what she’d buy with her Christmas money.
“I got $5 from Grandpa and the other dollars from Dad,” said Briana, 7, as she clutched “Strolling Fun Barbie and Kelly” dolls in the bright pink Barbie aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us on Tuesday.
“She has spending money,” said Briana’s mother, Sue Aleson. “She wanted to spend it so bad.”
Briana and her mother were among the tens of thousands who dared set foot in Inland Northwest stores on the day after Christmas. Some braved crowds to return wrong sizes or broken items. Others, like Briana, were anxious to spend Christmas money and gift certificates.
Most were bargain hunting.
Retailers tempted shoppers, advertising great deals to salvage revenues from what national experts are calling the worst Christmas shopping season in years. Christmas sales can account for up to half a store’s annual business.
“The after-Christmas sales are going to be really important in terms of profitability,” said Larry Gresham, marketing professor for the Center of Retailing Studies at Texas A&M; University. “The industry is just kind of in doldrums. It’s been a really rotten Christmas.”
Still, Gresham said, a tough year for retailers means good shopping for consumers. “I think this year, we’re going to see everything on sale. There’s going to be some really good bargains out there.”
That held true in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
Among the deals: 33 percent off on men’s khaki pants at Nordstrom in River Park Square, $40 off on CD players and walkie-talkies at Radio Shack in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, and more than $100 off on roller blades, sneakers and tennis racquets at Big 5 Sporting Goods on the North Side and in the Valley.
Throngs crowded Christmas aisles at discount stores such as Target, ShopKo and Kmart, jostling through to get decorations at 50 percent off. People grabbed wrapping paper, collectible dolls, tinsel, wreaths, ornaments and lights to get a head start on next year.
Dani Burford of Spokane stopped at a jam-packed Target on Spokane’s North Side to check out the Christmas aisle on her way to work.
“At 7 a.m., it was unmovable,” Burford said, laughing. “You couldn’t move your cart.”
At nearby Kmart, Marlene Johnson’s cart was stacked with wrapping paper, three cases of vanilla-scented candles, a Merry Christmas welcome mat, cards and a collectible doll.
“See, that was $25. It gets down to six (dollars),” Johnson said, holding up the doll. “I came out because I wanted to get 50 percent off on things.”
Other people braved the crowds to repair mistakes made during the first shopping round. Ruth and Ray Corder, of Newman Lake, hit Toys ‘R’ Us to replace a toy their grandson already had. Margaret Craner of Colbert stopped at Kmart on her way to work to return a broken gift. Pat Anderson of Spokane exchanged clothing at Nordstrom for a different size.
But most people were looking for bargains.
“We get all the sales,” said Kjirstin Strandy, 15, toting a new dress - bought on sale at Nordstrom - while shopping with her mother and sister.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo