MIAMI (CBS4) – Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean the holiday spending has come to an end. Across South Florida the stores and malls were mobbed as thousands of people returned unwanted gifts and used gift cards to pick up items Santa may have missed.

Retailers are doing their part with huge clearance sections and mark downs that will continue for at least a week.

More than 80% of the shoppers who braved the malls on Monday were there for the deals.

Patrick Taylor says he made a one day trip just for the sales. “Deals,” he explained, “the best bargain, the best prices. We’re from Trinidad so we traveled up just for this.”

Anie Cherian says the bargain prices drew her in. “Seeing all the sign for 50% off and 60% off .. we’re getting good deals,” she said.

“Well actually we didn’t go out before Christmas or on the same day as Christmas because it was crazy,” said Lupe Dip who was bargaining hunting at the Dolphin Mall. “So that’s why we came after Christmas.”

“We’re from Honduras and I’m going back from vacation so I’m getting everybody something,”said Maria Dip.

Holiday sales were up 3.8% over 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.

Some retailers said they were pleasantly surprised by the after Christmas crowds. In a recent American Express survey, 57 % of people across the country planned on shopping the day after Christmas. That’s up from 43% last year. More than 1 in 5 of those planned on cashing in gift cards, while more than one-third planned to buy for themselves.

Retailers are counting on the days after Christmas to perk up overall holiday sales. The upcoming days can account for more than 15 percent of total holiday spending. This year’s Christmas was a little brighter for the nation’s retailers.

“There’s great deals and there’s a lot of people out shopping. It’s been a spectacular holiday shopping season,” said retail analyst Kit Yarrow. “The day after Christmas is now considered to be up there with Black Friday as one of the hugest shopping days of the year. Gift cards really fuel a lot of the day after Christmas shopping. It used to be primarily returns.”

The returns are coming. More than $46 billion in first are expected to be returned to retailers this week.

Final sales figures for the two month period are expected to hit $469 billion nationwide.


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