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Stores expect wave of shoppers

Forget returns – local retailers are expecting today to be the day of redemption.

Gift card and gift certificate redemption, that is.

Major retailers like Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney’s and Burke’s and even local specialty retailers like Ward & Co. and Ansley Place said one of their biggest holiday gift sellers was of the go-buy-it-yourself variety.

“(Gift cards or certificates are) the perfect thing to get when you can’t make up your mind what to get that special person,” said Ansley Place’s Louisa Mann. “We sold a lot of gift certificates this year, and with our Christmas items 50 percent off, I hope to see a lot of people in (today) using them.”

The store will be open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Mike Ward said the day after Christmas shopping crowd brings out both the gift certificates and those hoping to spend “grandma’s favorite present.”

“I think we’ll see both — gift certificates and cash sales,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good customers who’ll be out looking for sales.”

At Wal-Mart, store manager Earl Preachers said he expects to see a huge crowd at the store’s 6 a.m. opening.

“We always have our traditional day-after Christmas clearance sale, and that brings out the shoppers,” he said. “We did sell a lot of gift cards before Christmas too, so I think people will be out purchasing items more than returning them. Gift cards are easier because then the person can buy exactly what they want and they don’t have to exchange anything.”

However, for those who do need to return items to Wal-Mart, Preachers said four registers — 15 through 18 — are designated solely for returns.

“People will actually go through (the lines) backwards,” he said. “You’ll bypass the customer service desk and head straight to one of those registers.”