Cheryl Sargent was getting quite a head start on her Christmas shopping Tuesday - 364 days worth to be exact.
With prices slashed to the bone at stores and malls throughout the region, what better time than the day after Christmas to get a jump on next year’s holiday shopping?
Santa Claus statues normally priced at $25 were marked down to the low, low price of $12.50.
“You can’t get that before Christmas,” Sargent said while perusing the sale racks at the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene. Shopping for next year’s Christmas items on the day after is a tradition for Sargent and her husband.
They were among the people who dared to set foot in stores on the annual “day after Christmas” shopping frenzy. Some braved crowds to return wrong sizes or broken items. Others were spending the Christmas cash sent to them by grandma and grandpa.
Many, like Sargent, were taking advantage of the freshly marked-down Christmas leftovers.
Retailers followed through, advertising great deals in an attempt to salvage revenues from a dismal Christmas shopping season, when sales can account for up to half of a store’s annual business.
“The after-Christmas sales are going to be really important in terms of profitability,” said Larry Gresham, a 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 throughout Coeur d’Alene and Spokane.
Among the deals: 25 percent off on sweaters at Emporium in the Coeur d’Alene mall, 33 percent off on men’s khaki pants at Nordstrom in River Park Square in Spokane and $40 off on some CD players and walkie-talkies at Radio Shack in Coeur d’Alene.
Throngs crowded Christmas aisles at discount stores such as Target, ShopKo and Kmart, jostling through to get Christmas items at 50 percent off. People grabbed wrapping paper, collectible dolls, tinsel, wreaths, ornaments and lights in preparation for next year.
Sargent and her husband are pros at the day after Christmas shopping spree. They don’t buy each other presents before Christmas.
Instead, “we’ll go out the day after Christmas and buy each other things we need because you get such a good deal,” she said with a smile.
On Tuesday, they saved $150 dollars buying a washer and dryer.
They combed through the men’s suits at JC Penney, where the racks were marked with the bold words “SALE - 50% off.”
Others braved the crowds to repair mistakes made during the first shopping round. Ruth and Ray Corder of Newman Lake, Wash., hit Toys ‘R’ Us in Spokane to replace a robot toy their grandson already had.
Emily Taylor of Post Falls had quite a list of items to return.
A robe went back to ShopKo - “It wasn’t what I wanted,” she said.
A sweater went back, too. “It was not my style.”
She exchanged some jeans for her husband - the wrong size.
She also handed back a green toaster from her mother. “I have a green carpet, green counter and green coffee maker.” The toaster was just too much green for one home.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo