VIENNA - People flocked to area stores Wednesday to return Christmas gifts that may not have fit, were the wrong color or were just not right for them while others took advantage of after-Christmas sales and the chance to use gift cards they might have received on Christmas.
The Grand Central Mall saw large crowds Wednesday.
''The mall is very busy (Wednesday),'' said Katrina Stephens, marketing director. ''As I walked the mall a short while ago, I saw lots of shoppers with bags, which is always a good sign.''
Patti Barrett and Shannon Barrett of Lubeck look at Christmas ornaments that were marked down 50 percent at a kiosk at the Grand Central Mall Wednesday as people flocked to area stores to do returns and check out the after-Christmas sales. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
The mall was operating with four additional shopping hours Wednesday, being open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., compared to a normal Wednesdayof 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
''As with any gift-giving holiday, returns and exchanges can always be expected,'' Stephens said. ''Often times, this might just be a size or color exchange, but as we all know, sometimes gifts are returned for store credit or refunds.
''Hopefully those shoppers will find something else they prefer at the same retailer, or from one of our nearly 100 stores here on property.''
Many stores are also starting their special after-the holidays sales as well as a number of special deals.
''The majority of our retailers roll out after-Christmas sales, semi-annual sales and exclusive offers to take advantage of shoppers who received gift cards during the holidays,'' Stephens said.
Shoppers have purchased nearly $300,000 in Grand Central Mall Gift Cards to date during December.
''We expect to see much of that come back to our retailers rather quickly,'' Stephens said.
A number of stores and kiosks had signs out announcing sales. Many holiday-themed items and time sensitive merchandise were maked down as much as 50 percent, while many stores had their own sales going on.
Many people were out taking advantage of sales while others wanted to get out of the houses after the holiday and do something different.
Chris and Ashley Myers of Meigs County, Ohio, were both returning items, getting a ring sized and looking at the sales.
''The day-after-Christmas sales are always the best,'' Chris Myers said. ''We have some stuff to return.
''It is basically being able to get out and spending some family time together before we all have to go to work.''
Ashley Myers said the crowds did not bother her.
''I'm use to it,'' she said. ''This is our favorite time of year.
''I like the crowds.''
Patti Barrett and Shannon Barrett of Lubeck just wanted to be able to get out together and do some shopping.
''We just wanted to spend some time together just looking for sales,'' Patti Barrett said.
Although the mall was crowded, she was expecting there to be more people.
''It was not as bad as I was expecting it to be,'' she said. ''I was kind of expecting it I guess.''
Leah Riley of Ravenswood said she had some returns to do with a couple of items that did not fit and she wanted the chance to look at some of the sales.
''There are some good deals going on,'' she said.
She had come out to the mall early and was able to do quick returns and start looking at a number of sales items.
''It wasn't so busy earlier, but (at around 3 p.m.) you have to wait in line for 10-15 minutes for returns,'' she said. ''I even walked out of a store because the line was so long.
''Still, I think everything went well. I didn't have any complications, I didn't have any hassles and I did returns with no problems.''