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Shoppers out in force Saturday

If you thought the Christmas rush was over, think again.

The day after Christmas is the third-busiest shopping day of the year, after Black Friday and Super Saturday, according to analytics firm ShopperTrak.

Shoppers were out in force Saturday, returning gifts, spending gift cards and shopping the sales.

Karrie Bower of Getzville was out with her daughter Alexis and mother Jackie Cafaro. Bower said she likes browsing the stores while making returns, taking advantage of post-Christmas discounts.

“If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, it’s perfect,” she said.

Jane and Bill Wheeler brought daughter Maria to Dick’s Sporting Goods to return a purple Under Armour sweatshirt they’d gotten her for Christmas. Maria loved it, but it didn’t fit, so they took it back and ended up buying two different ones.

“Now we’re $44 more in the hole than we came in the door with,” Jane Wheeler said.

More people than ever are doing their holiday shopping online. That means many returns will take place through the mail, throwing a wrench into the traditional post-Christmas return process.

Janelle Fenzel was at Boulevard Mall on Saturday returning Converse sneakers, sweatpants and bras that didn’t fit. She said she prefers taking care of returns in-store rather than online and keeps return policies in mind when doing her own Christmas shopping.

“It’s a pain. I’d rather not do that,” said Janelle Fenzel of Wilson. “Sometimes it takes like a month to get what you ordered back.”

Most brick-and-mortar stores allow customers to make returns in stores, even if items were bought online. In fact, “buy online, return in store” has its own acronym in the retail industry – BORIS. Retailers tout the concept, leveraging it as a way to compete on convenience against online-only stores.

For some families, the post-Christmas shopping trip has become a holiday of its own – a way to wring a few more magical moments out of Christmas.

Emily Lyons and her mother started a tradition years ago. She requests Boulevard Mall gift cards for Christmas, then she and her mom spend the day after Christmas shopping the mall together.

That way, she gets to spend time with her mother while buying exactly what she wants. She chose a sweater and skirt from H&M to wear on New Year’s Eve, some lotion from Bath & Body Works and some makeup from Sephora.

“I’d rather do that than returns any day,” Lyons said. “The line for returns is always so long and moves so slow.”

Another big draw for shoppers on the day after Christmas are the sales. Prices drop steadily throughout the Christmas season, but really kick in after Christmas as retailers seek to make room for new inventory.

Racine White set out with daughters Ray and Robyn specifically to hit Bath & Body Works’ popular semi-annual sale. Each year on Dec. 26, the store slashes its prices by up to 75 percent.

The White family snagged two large shopping bags full of product that would’ve normally cost more than $300, but which they got for just over $75.

“We all gotta get that last bit of Christmas spirit out of our systems,” Robyn said.

The entire week after Christmas is a busy one. It’s the last burst of steady traffic before the doldrums of winter, and retailers do their best to capture every last penny.

“The lines are long before Christmas, the lines are long just after Christmas and then it’s a ghost town,” Karrie Bower said.

Nearly half of holiday shoppers plan to hit the stores this week, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. About 47 percent of shoppers said they plan to shop at brick-and-mortar stores the week after Christmas while 43.1 percent said they will shop online. The rate is higher among millennials, 59.2 percent of whom said they will shop in stores and 59.3 percent of whom plan to shop online.

Of those who received gift cards for Christmas, 19.7 percent said they would spend them right away, while 41.9 percent said they will hold onto them until they find the best deals. Another 19 percent said they will hold onto them for future splurges.

While Dec. 26 is the third-busiest day in terms of foot traffic, it’s the 10th busiest in terms of dollars spent.