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A crescendo of consumers

Ryan Carter

Call it the “day after” at shopping hubs throughout the city.

Streets and parking lots were congested with shoppers frantically

looking for a place to park Friday. At Media City Center, mall

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walkways and checkout lines gradually swelled with consumers looking

for a good deal and those attempting to return what they might have

thought were good deals.

Retailers looked for a chance to finish up the year with a boost

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to their profits while clearing year-end inventories.

“It’s humming today,” Media City Center General Manager Brian

Gartland said. “Typically, this is a big day for clearance sales and

a lot of returns.”

By about noon, mall officials were expecting the early rush to

subside by early afternoon and then pick up again around 5 p.m. with

shoppers looking for deals at stores that were offering up to 60% off

on some items. Some were looking to return items purchased before

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Christmas, while others braved the crowds to redeem a trendy item

this year -- gift cards.

“We’re looking for good deals and to see if we can find any

bargains,” said Claudia Alba, whose family came from El Centro to

visit her mother.

Because of rain, the family was not able to purchase last-minute

gifts before Christmas, so the family came the day after to buy

gifts.

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For retailers, the days immediately following Christmas are

pivotal to finish off the sales year strongly, especially after what

officials say has been a lackluster year nationwide for holiday

retail.

“The shopping days after Christmas are extremely significant,”

Gartland said. “Any merchandise of the holiday type retailers are

generally trying to get rid of.”

Retailers agreed.

“It’s pretty important because January is generally a slow month,”

said Debbie Hallack, assistant manager at Pacific Sunwear at the

mall.

Retailers in the Los Angeles area, though, have seen better sales

numbers this year compared to the rest of the nation, said Jack

Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic

Development Corp. But they are still seeing glitches. One trend this

year has been for people to buy more gift cards and certificates.

“Consumers are really going for them,” Kyser said. “The problem is

the stores don’t credit the card until the receiver of the card comes

through the door.”

Said Gartland: “I have a feeling that, in the next week or so, we

will see a lot of gift cards being redeemed.”


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