SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 27, 2013

Post-holiday bustle

Returns, good deals drive people to local malls

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — Katie Collins lives in Italy, which is known for its shoe industry.

But yesterday, the Gloucester native found herself at Northshore Mall buying a pair of boots from Nordstrom. She was one of hundreds looking to return those holiday sweaters and buy the products that weren’t found under the tree.

“My mom got me a few things I needed to return at Macy’s,” said Collins as she stood next to her mother, Kathlyn Valianti of Gloucester. “I’m home from Italy for a few weeks, and I wanted to get boots. I know they have good boots in Italy, but they can be pricey.”

Collins, who has lived in Bologna, Italy, for the past three years, ended up settling on a $300 pair from Nordstrom.

“They might have been cheaper in Italy at this point,” she joked.

Collins said she had to wait in a line for the returns and to buy the boots. But “it wasn’t ‘Oh my God ... Get me out of here,’” she said.

It was a busy day at both Northshore and Liberty Tree malls and tough to find a decent parking spot — although not impossible. A sign at the Liberty Tree Mall read: “Great Gifts. Great Deals.”

The day after Christmas is one of the busiest days at malls each year, but it takes people a little while to get moving, said Lauren Dalis, marketing director at the Northshore and Liberty Tree malls.

“You get a lot of returns and a lot of people redeeming their gift cards,” Dalis said. “People like to sleep in on their day off, and then they come out for the sales.”

Dalis said it’s just as busy as before Christmas, but people are more relaxed because they aren’t scrambling to buy gifts. Many people are driven to the mall for the promotions and sales, she said.

“People are shopping more for themselves,” she said. “They are more focused.”

While she doesn’t have exact statistics or sale numbers from the stores at the mall, Dalis said it seemed like a strong holiday season. The Saturday before Christmas, people were hard-pressed to find a parking spot at the malls.

“The atmosphere has been positive,” she said. “It has been a strong holiday season.”

Kelli Silva of Peabody and her two children, Michael, 11, and Megan, 9, braved the mall to make a few returns and buy accessories for their new iPads. It is a trip they normally wouldn’t make.

“I’ve always been afraid to come out the day after Christmas, but it all worked out,” Silva said.

It actually wasn’t as bad as she thought, having returned everything in about an hour.

“It was great we found parking,” Silva said.

Beverly resident Danielle Mills stopped by the mall while her car was getting worked on at Sears. While she normally finishes her holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, she had one more gift to buy — a gift card.

“I do have a couple of last-minute things to buy,” she said. Like the Silvas, she normally wouldn’t shop on the day after Christmas.

“It is hectic, and I usually have my shopping done,” Mills said.

Collins said shopping the day after Christmas is somewhat of a family tradition.

“I looked for boots before I left, but I couldn’t find anything I like,” she said. “Italy doesn’t do sales like the U.S., so I wanted to take advantage of the deals.”

Valianti, in the meantime, said she enjoyed spending time with her daughter.

“Even though I make her spend all her money,” Collins said, joking.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.