As Christmas trees were collected to be ground into mulch on Thursday, shoppers around Columbia took advantage of clearance sales designed to curtail holiday inventory.
Shopping on the day after Christmas is a tradition for people looking for bargains. It can also help boost sales for retailers who have faced a lukewarm spending season so far.
Sales rose 3.5 percent during the holiday season this year compared to last, according to media reports.
Stephani McPherson, 45, and her mom went shopping at Kohl’s in northeast Richland the day after Christmas. It is a mother-daughter tradition that they have kept since McPherson was about 18.
The pair usually sets out around 6 a.m., but on Thursday they got started a little later – around 9:30 in the morning.
They said they pick up a lot of hostess gifts, like items they can give to someone who has a holiday get-together they might be invited to next year. They also bought Christmas cards for next year.
McPherson said she planned to go to Hobby Lobby for other holiday-related items such as a Christmas tree, ornaments and wrapping paper.
Another mother-daughter duo, Nakia Clark and her young daughter Ma’Kia stopped in at Kohl’s.
“I think the deals are sometimes better after Christmas than before Christmas,” Clark said.
Nakia estimated that she spent less money this year than she did last, and she did almost all of her shopping in stores instead of online. She said online shopping often comes with extra charges for things such as shipping.
Ma’Kia said Santa brought her some goodies including a tablet, clothes, a bike, jewelry and a television.
At the nearby electronics store, Best Buy, Joan Paulman, a customer service agent, said the store had been somewhat quiet early Thursday because a lot of people sleep in the day after Christmas.
She said it was her third Christmas working at the store and that this holiday season was busier than in previous years.
Some customers had exchanged presents they received to swap the items out for a different color, or they had received duplicate gifts and needed to return one. Other customers spent gift cards they had received to shop at Best Buy, she said.
“We are the electronic playground,” Paulman said.
Rice Music House spent its second Christmas season at Richland’s Village at Sandhill, and store owner Jyotindra Parekh said business was up by about 25 or 30 percent.
He said he felt shoppers were more confident in the economy, and he had seen more of them this year.
Jennifer Jefferson and her family were shopping at the Village at Sandhill Thursday. Her sons had GameStop gift cards to spend, she said. The family also had an item to return and other shopping to do.
“Who doesn’t have cash to burn, right?” Jefferson said. “After Christmas, anyway.”
Kelly Ackerly, 15, shopped with her mom at stores in the shopping village, spending the money she received on Christmas and choosing her own presents.
“Instead of getting a lot of stuff for Christmas, we get it the next day,” Ackerly said.
Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or www.twitter.com/cassielcope.