Bad gifting leads to happy returns

Dec. 27, 2013 @ 08:02 AM

Linda Main didn't like the dress her husband, Ray, bought her for Christmas. On Thursday, she showed up at Belk in Lenoir with her husband to exchange the dress and a few other items.

Ray Main also exchanged a pair of jeans that did not fit -- he wants to get jeans at a different store, so his wife got to use the exchange credit to get something else for herself.

According to a survey conducted by and The Omnibus Co., the Mains were among the nearly 42 percent of consumers who reported that they expected to return at least some gifts given to them for Christmas.

"It's a busy day for returns," said Belk manager Deb Niekamp. "Dec. 26 is similar to a typical Friday or Saturday, volume-wise. The entire week is busier than normal. More often than not, it's size that is being returned. We probably see more women than men, but we've already had a few men this morning."

The survey also revealed nearly nine in 10 respondents receive gift cards as a present and plan to put them to good use. Sixty-seven percent of consumers surveyed said they are most likely to use a gift card less than a month after receiving it. Total spending on gift cards, according to the National Retail Federation, is expected to reach $29.8 billion this holiday season.

Armed with two $50 gift cards, Mary Graves of Granite Falls went out Thursday to buy clothes for her husband, granddaughter and herself.

"I found one gift card in my wallet behind my driver's license," she said with a smile. "I got the other one yesterday."

Stores take advantage of the extra foot traffic to offer steep discounts on certain items.

"We have a lot of merchandise that has already been put on clearance," Niekamp said. "This is a good time to redeem those gift cards."