Shoppers hit morning-after sales 

Despite gloomy weather, shoppers flocked to The City’s stores Tuesday to take advantage of post-holiday sales and cash in those stocking-stuffer gift cards.

With holiday retail sales coming in a scant 3 percent higher than 2005, according to MasterCard Advisors, stores were open early with prominent sale prices to lure people to continue their shopping fever into the New Year. All the major retailers agreed gift cards were driving these purchases.

"That is definitely driving our sales today," said Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman Corinne Saunders, adding that the store had opened at 8 a.m., more than an hour earlier than usual. "The hottest items today are premium denim in both men’s and women’s, as well as ladies’ shoes. The highest-volume department today is cosmetics."

Bloomingdale’s is located in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, where shoppers could move from store to store without facing the afternoon’s rain.

Sales were also strong at Macy’s in Union Square, according to General Manager and VP Lori Randolph. Big sellers included cashmere items, young men’s clothes and women’s ready-to-wear, she said.

The store opened with "doorbuster" sales that ran from 7 a.m. until noon. She also said gift cards were big drivers, and that their use had branched out to an older crowd than has been seen in past years.

At the Best Buy on Harrison Street, shoppers lined up and the store added seven extra cashiers to accommodate gift-card shoppers and people seeking cameras and MP3 players. As at other stores, the staff was working hard to redirect returns into exchanges, salesman Josh Humphrey said.

"We’re welcoming any return that we get, and offering comparable product if it doesn’t suit their needs," Humphrey said. "People are leaving the return line and going right onto the sales floor."

At the Westfield Centre, shoppers Gail Ritucci of Sunnyvale and her adult daughter Renee Ritucci of Foster City planned to return to Banana Republic some clothing Gail had bought in-store for Renee after Renee saw it online.

The problem, endemic to online decisions: It didn’t fit the way it did on the model. But the family was also out for a less product-driven reason. They went to the mall for the fun of it.

"It’s a tradition. We always come up the day after Christmas as a family, just to shop and see the decorations and the craziness of it all," Gail Ritucci said.

For Rhoda Terry and her daughter Khayla Bullock, 10, of Oakland, a trip was a chance to spend Khayla’s $100 combined birthday/Christmas present. Khayla bought pink Vans sneakers with black cats on them, while Terry said she liked the sale prices but was holding out on buying until she went to Macy’s, because she hadn’t seen anything she liked yet.

Scott Eakin of Atlanta bought some men’s shirt’s at Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale. He said he had a gift card there, but didn’t use it. He does not care for malls and said the rain was part of what drove him there.

"We came because it was halfway between our hotel and the (San Francisco) Museum of Modern Art," he said.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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