Bargain hunters get a gift with after-Christmas sales

Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star Staff

Treadmills are on the move.

Even toys (yes, more of them) are flying off shelves.

Whatever merchandise didn't move from retailers' stores over the holiday shopping season will be sure to get price-slashed Monday when the aftermath of a retail bonanza begins.

"There will be a lot of stuff that retailers will want to unload," said Max Levitte, chief executive and founder of Cheapism, which helps consumers find the best buys. "Everybody is so desperate to sell everything and to enjoy the little cash that people have to spend."

Cash, credit, gift cards -- shoppers are expected to be out in force Monday using all of those to snatch up merchandise and contribute to what experts predict will be chaos.

Why? For one thing, the day after Christmas falls on a Monday. Most workers will get a paid day off to observe the holiday. And what else is there to do on a Monday but shop?

ShopperTrak, in fact, is predicting traffic could rise as much as 60% compared to last year. And so will sales.

The day after Christmas typically is the second-highest revenue day for retailers, with as much as $8 billion being spent on that one day, according to ShopperTrak. The week that follows, from Tuesday to Jan. 1, accounts for more than 15% of holiday spending.

So if you are doing a little shopping and want to get the best deals, here are tips we learned from the retail experts:

Try it on for size (and buy)

Especially the cozy stuff. An unseasonably warm winter has left way too many winter coats, furry vests and sweaters in the stores.

"You are going to see a lot of coats go on sale right away after Christmas," said Britt Beemer, founder of America's Research Group, which follows consumer and retail trends.

Other clothing and accessories also will be marked down big. This year, there are two reasons for that.

First, retailers held back during the holidays when it came to cutting apparel prices. They had some 40% off deals, but not the 60% and 70% off seen in Christmases past.

Then comes the changing of the seasons. Stores desperately need to move the winter merchandise so they can make way for their spring lineups.

Experts predict consumers may even see some 75% off clothing deals, as well as buy one, get one free offers.

"I'm sure there are going to be some incredible offers," Beemer said.

Play time

Sure. Santa's time is over. The toys already are plundered from under the tree.

That doesn't mean you won't find sales at your favorite toy store.

"You'll see stuff you paid full price for two weeks earlier that's $7," Levitte said. "The day after Christmas is just big sales."

The nation's largest toy retailer, ToysRUs, is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday.

Spokeswoman Katelyn Leondi filled us in on some of the deals, including a free Hasbro toy (you pick one of four valued at $19.99) with a total Hasbro purchase of $20 or more.

The store also is offering buy-one-get-one-40% off all movies and video games as well as buy-one-get-one-50% off all Fisher-Price Little People, MoshiMonsters, Dream Dazzlers, WWE single figures and more.

Exercise your wallet

Retailers aren't stupid. They know you feel kind of nasty from eating all those holiday dinners. They also know as many as 63% of Americans make a New Year's resolution to lose weight.

So, why not lure you in with a deal on the equipment to help you do that?

Some will mark down exercise bikes, weight sets and workout videos as early as Monday. Some will wait a few days and put them on sale New Year's weekend.

Swap it for cash

That gift card Grandma got you is to a store that, well, looks like her closet.

And it's for $100! You're pretty sure you would never find even one shirt in the store that fits your taste.

There's a way for you to turn that gift card into cash, for a fee.

The website gives consumers up to 92% of the value of their cards via check, PayPal or credit.

You also can buy new gift cards for up to 35% off.

The site lets consumers stack their savings by combining discounted gift cards with other store sales, promotions and incentives for an even better deal.

Jingle bells

This is the day to buy everything Christmas.

From trees and greeting cards to decorations and lights, stores will have merchandise marked down 50% to 90% off.

Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Kohl's -- all plan on cutting prices to get that passe holiday stuff out of their stores.

Starting Monday through Saturday, Rite Aid will offer 50% off select Christmas items, including all home decorations, gift wrap, greeting cards and many Christmas tree decorations and accessories, said Eric Harkreader, spokesman for Rite Aid.

"It's a great time to stock up for the following holiday season," he said.

Wait for returns

No, you don't have to wait to return your gifts. But you might want to wait to buy more until other people return, Levitte said.

This is where you can get rock-bottom prices on merchandise.

"A lot of people return a lot of stuff, and the stuff people return you can get for dirt-cheap prices," Levitte said.

Think of all those clearance racks. Or the shelves marked as-is. It may not be perfect, but if you can get a $60 sweater (with a tiny snag below the armpit) for $5, why not?


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