Bargain hunters crowd stores for after Christmas sales |

Bargain hunters crowd stores for after Christmas sales

Sandi Hoover

Shoppers headed to America’s stores Saturday, many with gift cards in hand, hoping to snag after-Christmas discounts. They were greeted with big markdowns – in some cases topping 75 percent off.

In Carson City, shoppers were looking for bargains and enjoying some time out of the house the day after Christmas.

Twenty-four-year-old Staci Sullivan, of Reno, was visiting her family in Minden for Christmas and came to Burlington Coat Factory with her mother to hunt for items for her September wedding.

“We came out for kind of an oddball reason. We were actually at Walmart looking at half-price white lights for Staci’s wedding,” said her mother, Patti Sullivan. “And we came here to see if we could find rhinestone headbands on sale.”

She said their Christmas didn’t suffer much because of the economy.

“We did about the same, maybe a little less, but we hunted for bargains. You could say we started a little earlier and shopped a little harder, and we had a great Christmas with family and friends,” she said.

Richard Harder of Dayton was shopping with his wife Melissa and 18-month-old son L.R. at Jo-Ann Fabrics in the Carson Mall Saturday.

“We’re expecting our second baby in April so we’re having to move L.R. out of the nursery into a big boy room,” said Melissa Harder as L.R. grinned in Daddy’s arms.

Richard Harder said they “spent a lot less this year” on Christmas having just made a move to Nevada from Michigan.

“He loves to fish and hunt, and we just like the way people live their lives here. Nobody’s trying to keep up with the Joneses. It’s just totally laid back,” Melissa Harder said.

At the north end of town, Walmart was as busy as ever.

Justin Rose was shopping with his wife Michelle, their 2-year-old daughter Kyra and their 10-month-old son Jax.

“We’re just here to see if there are any good sales, and the kids have gift cards so we’re going to see if there are any toys they didn’t get,” said Justin Rose.

He said their family, which also includes an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, is accustomed to living on a one-paycheck income, and they don’t let the economy affect them.

“I can’t say we’ve felt the economy too much. The kids look forward to Christmas all year so we don’t skimp on it. They don’t need to feel our struggles. We pay our bills and don’t worry about the economy,” he said.

Nationally, crowds were mixed during Saturday’s kickoff of the week after Christmas – which last year accounted for nearly 15 percent of holiday retail sales.

This year, it could be more important because snowstorms that socked much of the country cut sales by 2.1 percent for the weekend before Christmas compared with the same weekend a year earlier, according to research firm ShopperTrak.

Retailers are counting on the days after Christmas to perk up overall holiday sales in a season that looks like it’s been only modestly better than last year’s disaster.

This year the calendar provides a full weekend just after Christmas for merchants to try to entice shoppers to ring up more sales before many close out the year. Many stores made a push to woo gift-card-toting shoppers Saturday by opening early, slashing prices and advertising big sales.

Knowing holiday shoppers would likely spend less this year because of high unemployment, a move toward thrift and economic uncertainty, merchants carefully managed inventory for the season, buying less than a year ago when the economic meltdown surprised everyone and forced fire sales to get rid of excess goods.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.