ST. GEORGE — A new season of shopping started bright and early Thursday. It may seem crazy, but for some people in Southern Utah, it’s a tradition to hit the mall the day after Christmas.
Whether it’s to return the sweater you will never wear, get cracking at spending the gift card that is burning a hole in your wallet or to take advantage of after-Christmas discounts, people descended on the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George.
“This is something I look forward to every year,” St. George resident Donna Roy said. “I love going out on all of the challenging days to shop. Black Friday, Christmas Eve and today. It is too much fun.”
Roy added that she is drawn to the energy at the mall.
“It’s palpable,” she said. “Can’t you just feel the excitement.”
Shoppers hustled and bustled from store to store scooping up discounted items like there was no tomorrow. Some found things they didn’t realize they wanted, while others bought things they didn’t get from Santa this year.
For St. George resident Ron Wittle, venturing out the day after Christmas is a necessity.
“My family has our Christmas the weekend after New Year’s Eve,” Wittle said. “I know it sounds crazy, but you really can find great deals.”
Although everyone in Wittle’s family is grown, they exchange one gift on Christmas Day.
“Some of us are a little sentimental,” he added.
According to the National Retail Federation’s annual December consumer survey, 68% of people said they will shop during the week after Christmas, with nearly half saying post-holiday sales and promotions are a big motivation to shop. Nearly 30% added they plan on using gift cards during the next week as well.
Despite a hectic shopping season, the retail federation says people are spending more money this year than last year. In 2019, shoppers spent an average of $1,047 for the holidays.
It’s not just spending that draws consumers to the mall or big-box stores.
More than 54% of people surveyed say they will take back unwanted gifts within the first month of receiving their gifts. Eighty percent will make their returns and exchanges in person at brick-and-mortar stores, the survey said.
“I told my mom I didn’t want shoes, I didn’t need shoes. The way it is now, my closet could stand-in for a shoe store in the next Emily Blunt movie,” Washington City resident Kate Miller said. “All I wanted was a day at the spa, some Belgium chocolate and a new litter box for the cat. Mom never listens.”
Retail experts say that many stores adjust return policies during the holidays allowing a minimum of 15-30 days after Christmas Day to return big-ticket items and 30-90 days for other merchandise. Experts say to read the fine print and return deadlines.
Journeys shoe store manager Isaac Swisher is proud to offer a return policy that no other store at the Red Cliffs Mall can offer.
“We have the best refund/exchange policy in the mall,” he said.”We offer our customers for one year to be able to return their shoes.”
Although it was mid-day, Journeys and many other retail stores at the mall were packed with customers.
“It’s been crazy, but nothing that we can’t handle,” Swisher said. “Just because it is the day after Christmas doesn’t mean it stops us. We take care of our customers long after.”
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