The shopping continues

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Belk cashiers Kevin Howell and Becca Roberts ring up and bag Christmas wrapping paper and cups, which were 75 percent off on Wednesday. GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—On a whim, Alexia Rawls swung by Belk at 6 a.m. the day after Christmas in hopes of finding wrapping paper on sale.

Rawls walked out the door with a bag full, which at 75 percent off, sold for $1.50 a roll.

The 49-year-old Franklin woman, who noticed the Armory Drive store was open when she went to a nearby ATM, joined shoppers across the nation making returns and spending gift cards from Christmas.

U.S. shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, according to a published report. It was the worst year-over-year performance since 2008, when spending shrank sharply during the recession. The final week of December accounts for about 15 percent of the month’s sales.

Mary Apaliski, operations manager for Belk in Franklin, expects to see a chunk of those post-Christmas sales.

“This is still the holiday season,” Apaliski said Wednesday. “Even after Christmas, the holiday season continues.”

Apaliski called 2012 a strong shopping season that was comparable to 2011.

“We felt we had some strong advertising and customers responded to it,” she said, noting Belk hopes to draw in post-Christmas shoppers with Door Buster sales and coupons.

“Black Friday was phenomenal,” Apaliski added.

It was the first time Belk opened at midnight. She guaranteed to expect the same next year for the traditional busiest shopping day of the year.

A sale prompted Flossie Hall to stop by Belk on her way to work shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday. The 70-year-old Southampton Memorial Hospital nurse was looking for a black winter coat advertised at 50 percent off.

“I’m always looking for a better bargain than that,” said Hall, who lives in Courtland.

Peanut Patch Gift Shop Manager Shannon Bicknell said the Courtland store had a “great season.”

“We’ve had local (shoppers) and travelers,” Bicknell said. “They’ve been buying gifts for themselves, gifts for people, peanuts of course, and a lot of accessories, scarves and purses.”

The Christmas season kicked off the second weekend in November and continues this week, she said.

Carlton Cutchin, owner of Ace Hardware, said this Christmas season was slightly better than last year.

“We were a little bit up, not much,” Cutchin said. “With the economy the way it is, I was very pleased.”

Carhartts were his top seller.

Cutchin expects a busy post-Christmas.

“We have people coming in buying what they did not get and then we have exchanges,” he said. “And there’s a lot of gift cards out there.”