August 22, 2019

Post-holiday shoppers jam stores Area retailers report surge of bargain hunters

BANGOR – ‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the town, bargain shoppers were stirring in search of markdowns – at the mall, downtown and elsewhere.

Christmas has come and gone, leaving merchandise returns, exchanges and discounts in its wake, and wrapping up a profitable holiday shopping season at the Bangor Mall, according to general manager James Gerety.

“Early indications are that this was a pretty good season,” he said, noting an estimated 4 percent sales increase over last year.

Discounts associated with the Christmas shopping season were made later this year than usual, Gerety said, indicating strong pre-holiday sales. Retailers weren’t forced to rely on 30 to 50 percent markdowns in order to clear merchandise from their stores, he said.

“There didn’t seem to be an overabundance of real deep markdowns,” he said.

Although many shoppers will return items in search of the right color or fit, many are tempted by low prices to make additional purchases, Gerety said.

“While you have return dollars going in, you have sales dollars going out,” he said.

But a half-off sale at My Maine Bag was all it took for one shopper to face the mall crowds.

“I have no returns,” said Marcia, of Ellsworth, who declined to give her last name. “I always keep every gift I get.”

Purchasing Christmas decorations and gifts for her daughter and granddaughter, Marcia said busy stores and long lines don’t bother her, but her husband decided to wait outside.

Karl and Rae Snow of Charleston came to the mall in search of accessories for their camcorder, deciding on a black carrying case from Radio Shack.

“If we’d had any sense, we would have stayed home,” said Karl, who was hungry and tired of the crowds.

Many customers at the store also came in search of items to complement their Christmas gifts, according to Radio Shack manager Terry Stedley.

“It’s usually a busy day,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a very busy weekend.”

Sears manager Steve Carey has similar expectations for the post-Christmas week, saying returns, sales and exchanges at the store have not yet exceeded expectations.

“Traffic’s been pretty good today,” he said. “Hardware is extremely busy.”

Meandering around the fitness equipment, Sears patrons and tourists Martin Mueller of Switzerland and Timothy Hinene of Germany said sales advertisements convinced them to take a look around the mall.

“We thought we’d give it a try,” Mueller said.

But post-Christmas discounts aren’t the norm in the jewelry business, according to G.M. Pollack and Sons store manager Mark Burns.

Watch and ring sizing took up much of his clerks’ time Friday, along with redeeming popular Bangor Mall gift certificates, he said.

“We’re booked with ring sizing through December,” Burns said. “Sales have been phenomenal this season.”

Christmas sales figures have proved strong beyond Hogan Road, as well. Customers eagerly awaited the Grasshopper Shop’s opening in downtown Bangor on Friday, according to owner Rick Schweikert.

“It’s unbelievable today. It’s a madhouse,” he said. “They were lined up 10 deep when we opened at 10 a.m.”

While many shoppers took advantage of a half-off sale on Christmas decorations at the shop, lines remained manageable and customers enjoyed the less-hectic atmosphere offered at the family-owned store, Schweikert said.

“It’s not so crazy. It’s a pretty different experience,” he said.

In the midst of a moving sale, Miller’s Department Store in Brewer enjoyed its best Christmas shopping season ever, said Manager Bob Pushard, attributing the success to the store’s variety of reasonably priced apparel.

Shoppers’ relaxed dispositions made the busy day run smoothly, Pushard said, as bargain hunters scoured the racks for Dickies and Carhartt apparel, as well as other outdoor clothing.

“Right now, we’re on track to have a record day after Christmas,” he said. “Everybody’s in a good mood, thankfully.”

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