In years past, the day after Christmas was typically marked by long waits in return lines and harried post-holiday shoppers scooping up discounted deals. This year, however, local retailers are reporting that lines have been few and shopping spirits still bright.
Although final holiday sales numbers are not yet available, it’s clear that clicking for Christmas gifts is replacing walking through store aisles. The National Retail Federation reports Black Friday online sales were up 15 percent, although overall Black Friday weekend sales decreased 3 percent.
Online shopping, early returns, longer exchange periods and a general satisfaction with gifts this season may have eased some of the brick-and-mortar business.
Frankie Leach, who was waiting on customers Thursday at the Meijer store in Grand Haven Township, said lines were slim all morning.
“It’s not like it used to be, with a lot of people in line at one time." she said. "Years ago, we used to open our checkout lanes for returns, but it’s not like that anymore.”
Leach said instead of a mad rush to the return line on the morning after Christmas, shoppers are choosing to stop in before, or several days or even weeks after the holiday.
“This is pretty typical right here,” she said, glancing at five people in line at the store's courtesy desk.
Mark and Angie Green were two of those customers. They were exchanging a Glo Fish tank that their son had given to his daughter for Christmas, but it leaked.
“He had to work today, so we offered to do it for him,” Mark said.
Meijer didn’t have a replacement 1.5-gallon tank in stock, so the store manager let the Greens replace it with a 3-gallon model.
“They were kind to us,” Mark said.
Grand Haven Township resident Deb Feyen said she was impressed with the lack of lines.
“Maybe people had to go back to work,” she said.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.