By DON O'BRIENHerald-Whig Staff Writer
When the Christmas shopping season kicked off at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving at Quincy Mall, Quincy High School juniors Danielle Holley and Elizabeth Zaerr were among the hundreds of people who jammed the hallways looking for Black Friday shopping deals.
The girls stayed out shopping until 5:30 a.m. that day. They expected a similar scene when they returned to the mall Wednesday morning, the day after Christmas, which is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for retailers dealing with gift returns.
"We figured there would be swarms of people, but it looks like normal traffic," Zaerr said.
Maybe it was a holiday hangover, but Dec. 26 shopping in Quincy looked no different than any other day of the year. It used to be that the day after Christmas was known for being a day filled with shoppers returning items that they received on Christmas but weren't quite what they had hoped to get.
At midmorning Wednesday, the customer service area at Wal-Mart had no waiting.
"We haven't been very busy," an associate behind the customer service counter said.
The store had one of its checkout aisles specifically marked for returns, but it was dark.
People who ventured out to the mall were greeted with steep discounts. Nearly every store at the mall had advertisements in its windows promoting big discounts, some as much as 75 percent off regular prices. Seeing merchandise available for pennies on the dollar was enough to bring some shoppers out despite their fears of big crowds that never developed.
Loretta Bohon of Hannibal, Mo., was shopping with her granddaughter, Mikkah Johnson of Maywood, Mo. Bohon didn't battle the Black Friday crowds like Johnson did, but she was drawn out Wednesday "to get the good deals."
Johnson, a freshman at John Wood Community College, figured she had saved about $250 in her trips to Bergner's and Kohl's. She said she was out at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night taking in the early Black Friday deals, so she was surprised with how easy it was to find parking and room to move Wednesday.
"We figured it would be packed," Johnson said.
Bohon and Johnson were shopping for one more family Christmas celebration taking place this weekend.
For Holley, Wednesday was about getting what she wanted for Christmas. She asked her family for money for Christmas. She was busy turning those monetary gifts into what she really wanted, thus negating any reason for returning anything.
"Victoria's Secrets had some good deals," she said. "And I'm on my way to get an iPad next."
Zaerr was lugging around a bunch of books that she had purchased.
"The bookstore is usually pretty expensive, but they had a lot of good deals today," she said.
According to consumer traffic monitoring firm ShopperTrak, Dec. 26 was expected to be the fifth-busiest day of the 2012 shopping season, behind Black Friday and the three Saturdays leading up to Christmas Day.
Quincy Mall opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday. It will continue to operate on holiday hours until the day after New Year's Day. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Saturday, with hours of noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.