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Shoppers search for after-Christmas bargains (w/video)

By Jessica Priest
Dec. 26, 2013 at 6:26 a.m.

Christopher Ruiz, computer and tablet sales associate, hands a new HP laptop to Maggie Hendrix, 12, middle, as her sister, Abby Hendrix, 15, holds her own new Mac laptop, right, while shopping at Best Buy in the Victoria Mall. The girls saved their allowances, birthday money and Christmas money to buy the laptops they wanted  the day after Christmas. Their father, Ed Hendrix, 41, accompanied them to the store.

Janie Solis was on a mission Thursday morning.

She needed to find a shawl, and Dillard's in the Victoria Mall was her fourth stop of the day.

"They (family members) got me a couple for Christmas, but they were too thin," said Solis, of Victoria.

She likes to wear shawls while attending live shows at the Leo J. Welder Center, where she said she gets chilled.

Thursday was not the first time Solis or her granddaughter, Alyssa Brockwell, went bargain hunting this season.

On Black Friday in Austin, they found Beats by Dre headphones for Alyssa, 14, of Victoria, for $114, marked down from $199.

They shopped from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.

"We loaded up one truck with stuff and then came back to the house and loaded up the Suburban," Solis said, chuckling.

Stores are not as crowded the day after Christmas, the pair said, and the deals are sweeter later in the year.

Solis thumbed through a rack of sparkly Alex Marie blouses while carrying a bag of red tree trimmings marked at half price.

"I can't find a price tag," she said, calmly moving onto the next rack. "Oh well, I'm going to wait until after Jan. 1, and then it'll be on sale."

In the shoe department, Cindy Hickl, 37, of Midfield, needed to decide between two riding boots - a pair with a heel and a pair without.

"Last year, I didn't (come shopping), and I was having withdrawals," Hickl said. "I told myself I'd always ask for the day after Christmas off."

Boots and booties were 40 percent off at Dillard's on Thursday.

While exchanges and returns after Christmas are common, shoppers often make new purchases once inside the store, said Daniel Salinas, J.C. Penney Co. talent resource officer.

J.C. Penney's bedding and bath items are anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off until Tuesday.

Many people spent time with their family and began shopping later in the day, he said.

"It kind of picked up after 11 a.m., and we've been holding steady since then," said the three-year store veteran. "Every year is a little bit different."

People were also redeeming gift cards, he said.

Connie Wood, owner of the Market of Victoria on Airline Road, had not seen anyone pay for items with a gift card as of 1 p.m. Thursday, but said Christmas decorations were flying off the shelf.

"We sold a ton of them (gift cards), so they will be (using them)," she said.

A Christmas tree decked out in colorful flowers, parasols and lanterns was on display.

"We have a lot of unique things, and people come in here for that reason," Wood said. "We just really have not been hurt at all (by the economy). We have affordable things. I think that's key."

Only one person had exchanged a T-shirt for a different size Thursday. The store does not allow returns.

Eight in 10 shoppers were expected to hand their loved ones or friends gift cards this year, according to a National Retail Federation study.

The shoppers were predicted to spend an average of $163.16 on gift cards, up 4 percent over the $156.86 spent in 2012.

Retail brick-and-mortar shopper traffic, meanwhile, decreased by 21.2 percent the week of Dec. 16 to 22 compared to the same time period in 2012, according to ShopperTrak, an organization that provides the retail industry with analytics and insights.

"Bad weather throughout the country kept some shoppers away from stores," Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder, wrote in a news release.

Also, despite more markdowns and promotional efforts, sales on "Super Saturday," or Dec. 21, decreased by 0.7 percent.

Abby and Maggie Hendrix, 15 and 12, of Victoria, respectively, received money, not gift cards, this year, which they used to buy laptops at Best Buy.

Abby, a student at Victoria West High School, saved up for the Apple MacBook Air. She thought its video editor, among other features, would come in handy.

"That one (Abby) had to save some birthday money as well," the girl's father, Ed Hendrix, 41, said, smiling.



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