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Retailers brace for returns
Gift cards, exchanges to drive traffic Friday
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Forsyth County News

Possibly the only thing better than receiving a Christmas gift is taking it back to the store and exchanging it for what you really want.

Well, maybe not. But returns are why the day after Christmas is one of the busiest for Georgia retailers.

"It's not always a profitable day for everybody because of returns, but it's always a busy day," said John Heavener, president of the Georgia Retail Association.

"It's traditionally a really busy day for two reasons, gift returning and shopping, and also for sales."

The day after Christmas, many holiday-specific items are substantially marked down. Bargain shopping becomes a holiday in itself for some families.

"We do it after every major holiday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween," said Forsyth County resident Josh Shorr. "We always go in for all the bargains. It's the best time to do the shopping.

"We actually do next year's Christmas shopping and Hanukkah shopping. We probably get about 50 to 60 percent of the shopping for next year done the day after Christmas."

Shorr said his 9-year-old daughter, Natalie, isn't as excited over the sales as he and his wife, Stacey, but she still braves the crowds with her parents every year.

Like other retailers, Cumming SuperTarget's holiday merchandise will go on sale Friday. Savings range from 50 to 75 percent, said Steve Reid, store manager.

"People are out looking for bargains that day," he said. "We see a lot of families out shopping together that day due to the fact that school's out and a lot of people are off work."

Heavener said many gift card recipients often wait until the new year to spend their gift cards.

For Target, however, gift card shoppers are just as popular as bargain hunters Dec. 26.

"The redemption for gift cards is very high the day after, especially with children redeeming cards they may have received for Christmas for video games, toys, etc.," Reid said.

While deeply discounted merchandise may draw large crowds, it doesn't yield big profits for retailers, Heavener said.

But not selling the merchandise can cost a retailer both in taxes and retail space.

"You just want to move the inventory out so you can have a place to sell things that will produce a profit," he said "But you're not going to find many new things the week after Christmas ... just what's in stock.

"Retailers don't want to pick up extra inventory for Jan. 1, when they have to pay the inventory tax on their inventory."

Georgia is one of just nine states that still levies an inventory tax, leaving car dealerships and other retailers in a crunch to sell as much as possible before the new year.

"Right after Christmas, retailers are ready to move it all out and put things out for Valentine's Day or whatever's next," Heavener said.