Entries in Shopping (7)


Happy Returns: Shoppers Hunt for Best Deals

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The day and week after Christmas is one of the busiest times for gift card redemption, said a spokeswoman for Walmart. Stores are often also inundated with gift returns.

"If people return something, there's a 70 percent chance they will buy something else," said Britt Beemer, retail analyst and chairman of America's Research Group.

Deals will be different in-store and online, so research is key. A spokeswoman for Walmart said its website and stores would offer 50 percent discounts but on different items. Many Walmart stores will open at 5 a.m. Monday, and the store will have a clearance on select toys, home products, some apparel and seasonal merchandise, the Walmart rep said.

Most retailers offer deep discounts on Christmas decorations, even fake Christmas trees, which shoppers can easily stow away in the basement or garage for next year.

Apparel deals will be aplenty for those who are in stores returning gifts. Last year, American Eagle, Aeropostale, New York & Company, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic factory stores, Express and Old Navy offered in-store deals the day after Christmas. The Gap offered an extra 50 percent off sale items in-store until noon, according

Jennifer Black, retail expert and president of independent research firm Jennifer Black and Associates, recommends that shoppers save receipts in case items are discounted further. Some retailers offer price adjustments.

Black said apparel retailer Talbots is likely to offer a 40 percent discount, because it had been struggling with holiday sales.

Last year, department stores offered a plethora of online coupons. Macy's, Nike, Ann Taylor Loft, JCPenney, Best Buy, Walmart, Tory Burch, Timberland and Kiehl's are examples, said Sakraida. Macy's had a coupon of $10 off a purchase of $25 or more.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Holiday Grinches Steal Christmas in Massachusetts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Looking for those last-minute Christmas gifts? Why not just steal them.  That seems to be the trend of the moment in Massachusetts, with no less than four separate Grinch-like thefts of Christmas gifts and decorations hitting families right before the holidays.

A Lawrence, Mass., mother, 41-year-old Zaida Ramirez, came home to find her apartment vandalized and most of her carefully wrapped Christmas gifts -- including Barbie dolls and a pair of coveted sneakers -- stolen.

A host of electronics equipment was also taken, including a television and several digital cameras, but it was the theft of the gifts that really broke Ramirez’s heart “I can’t believe it. It’s just like the Grinch. They stole our gifts and we don’t have the money to replace them. I have nothing for my family,” Ramirez told ABC News.

The family is managing to get by on a single salary in this tough economy.  Ramirez’s husband works in construction and has seen his hours cut back. After basic expenses there isn’t a lot left over for food, never mind gift-giving, so Ramirez isn’t sure what her kids will open on Christmas Day. “There is nothing left, I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”

But as sad as Ramirez’s story is, coming just days before Christmas, it isn’t unique. Thieves have made off with everything from Christmas lights to those gigantic festive inflatables that dot New England lawns at this time of year.

A father-daughter theft team even got in on the act in Quincy, Mass., where police have charged 58-year-old Michael Ritchie and his daughter, 19-year-old Jennifer Ritchie, with larceny after a neighbor spotted the duo stealing packages .

It turns out that Christmas is the time of year that the criminal mind gets inventive. Thieves have taken to following delivery trucks, like UPS and Federal Express, and grabbing boxes from doorsteps before the intended recipient makes it home, said Quincy Police Captain John Dougan.

In this case, the police report states that Michael Ritchie was found with a set of speakers and a series of CDs. Later police found baby clothes and Hello Kitty items,  intended as gifts -- inside Jennifer Ritchie’s home.

Federal Express is even warning their drivers to be cautious if they think they are being followed. And with more than 100 million packages being delivered this week alone, that’s a lot of potential boxes for Grinch-wannabes.

A Somerville, Mass., couple was also arrested for stealing more than 100 packages from doorsteps in their neighborhood and in nearby towns. Most of the swiped items seemed intended as gifts, such as fruit baskets, clothing and children’s toys.  It seems, though, like the Grinch, even the thieves are feeling badly about their pre-Noel pilfering. Kristen Casey burst into tears after she was arrested and her boyfriend Manuel Sheehan reportedly told police, “I feel like such a scumbag.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mom Who Put Gifts in Wrong Car Says Someone Tried to Cash In

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YPSILANTI, Mich.) -- A Michigan mom who was hoping for a Christmas miracle after she placed $700 worth of gifts in the wrong car was heartbroken when a store informed her that someone had tried to cash in on her mistake.

Linda Gipson, of Ypsilanti, accidentally placed boxes and bags of gifts in the wrong Ford Focus parked at a mall on Dec. 15.

The mom of five said she'd put the presents in the car and then returned to shop for another hour, only to emerge and realize she had made a terrible mistake.

"I parked in aisle 10, and the car wasn't there, so I turned around and saw a similar silver Ford Focus and realized that I must have used my key to open the trunk of the wrong car, because the car I put the gifts in was gone and my car was still in the lot," Gipson said. She was shocked to realize that her car key could work on the trunk of another car.

Now Gipson said she has little hope of recovering the gifts, especially after a store called her to report that a young woman had tried to exchange two of Gipson's gifts for cash. Gipson, who'd immediately notified all the stores of the mix-up, said the store manager at Arden B recognized the items and put a stop on the return. Gipson said the manager even noticed that the items were linked to the name of Gipson's daughter, who has a frequent shopper card at Arden B.

Gipson and police were stunned to realize that her car key had successfully worked to open the trunk of an identical car, which Gipson said led to the mix-up in the first place.

"I'm not an expert on keys and how many different combinations they have but -- it's a one in a million chance that this could happen. It's possible the trunk she went up to wasn't closed all the way. There are so many different possibilities but all of them remote," said Novi Assistant Police Chief Tom Lindberg.

ABC News checked with a variety of Ford dealers and locksmiths across the country, all of who said the same thing: Car keys are unique -- one of a kind -- and it would be virtually impossible for one car key to open a different car's door or trunk, even a car of the same year and model.

Gipson said she still had some presents for her children, ages 11 through 24, tucked away for Christmas morning, and had received donations from people who heard her story, although she insisted to the donors she was not asking for help.

"I don't know what else to say. It's sad," Gipson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –- If Sasha and Malia are reading the news, they might be upset to see that their dad has spoiled one of their Christmas surprises.

After calling House Speaker John Boehner to negotiate over the stalled payroll tax cut, President Obama slipped into the holiday spirit and took a ride down to nearby Alexandria, Va., where he bought presents for his daughters. In the video game section of a Best Buy, he blurted out to a press pool, “In case you were wondering, 'Just Dance for the Wii.’”

While Bo played with another dog at PetSmart, the press pool reports, Obama bought a chew toy and another item for the first family’s dog, costing about $41.

That should keep Bo busy while the girls play with their new pets -- apparently Obama also bought them The Sims 3, the “Pets” edition. The game’s website entices: “Create the perfect (or imperfect) pets for your Sims, from fierce guard dogs to destructive kittens to trusty horses and more as you determine not only how your Sims’ pets look but their personality traits as well.”

He also bought two $50 Apple gift cards.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Analysts: Thanksgiving Night Openings Were Successful, Here to Stay

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Despite the scuffles, the pepper-spray and the stampedes, the midnight openings on Black Friday were a success, say retail analysts.

The CEOs of Target, Toys R Us, and Best Buy said that crowds were more than their stores could even handle. The success of the venture means that early Black Friday openings are in for the long run.

The dark side of Black Friday, however, was on full display. At a Walmart outside of Phoenix, Ariz., a grandfather was slammed onto the floor by police suspecting him of shoplifting. He told officials that he had tucked a video game into his waistband so he could save his grandson from the riotous shoppers.

In Los Angeles, police searched for a woman accused of using pepper-spray to get ahead in a line outside of Walmart. At least 20 people were injured in the incident. On Saturday an unidentified woman turned herself in, although police have not released any details.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


59 Grinches Arrested in ‘Operation Whoville’ Shoplifting Sting

Cook County State's Attorney Office(CHICAGO) -- A pre-holiday undercover bust dubbed “Operation Whoville” netted 59 professional shoplifters around Chicago who were part of sophisticated fencing rings, police said.

The undercover task force was made up of federal, local and county authorities who aimed to catch the bad guys in the act.

The brazen thieves in these operations are known as “boosters,” or professional shoplifters. Authorities say they often go into a store with a list of items that they know they will be able to sell quickly and for a good price.

“Operation Whoville” began in October and focused on malls in suburban Chicago and stores on the city’s famous downtown shopping street, the Magnificent Mile.

“It was a big operation and the significance was that most of the work done by police departments in regards to financial crime is reactive in nature, but this was a proactive approach,” Orland Park Police Department Chief Tim McCarthy told ABC News.

Those arrested included Phillip Mazurek, a Skokie, Ill., man accused of stealing a $5,000 crystal vase from a store on the Magnificent Mile.

“These things can be sophisticated,” McCarthy said. He said that thieves in one of the rings would ship the stolen goods to Miami and from there the items would shipped to South America to be sold.

“It was a great effort and it’s going to continue,” McCarthy said. “These people who engage in this kind of activity aren’t going to know next time if we’re there watching. There’s hopefully going to be a Whoville Two.”

Whoville was, of course, the fictional town The Grinch ransacks before the holidays in the Dr. Suess classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Slips Out of Seclusion for Brief Shopping Trip

Kevin Casey/AFP/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Amanda Knox, who has been in seclusion since her release from an Italian prison, is finally venturing out.

Her return to the public was no more than a trip to a store for toothpaste and a chocolate bar, but it was a deliciously simple act that she had been denied during her four years in an Italian prison.

Ironically, one of her last acts in prison was the inmate ritual of snapping her toothbrush and carrying it outside the walls of Capanne prison before throwing it away.

Knox's foray into the public comes as more details of her prison ordeal emerge, specifically how she was sexually harassed.

Knox's younger sister Deanna told ABC News that she saw the remnants of the harassment firsthand while visiting her sister in prison.

"There was something right in front of me and so I put my arm over it," Deanna Knox said.

Deanna Knox said she covered up scribbled words that read "Amanda is a whore."

On one occasion, a male guard reportedly entered Knox's cell alone, despite a policy against it, and made sexual remarks, ABC News has confirmed. On another occasion, a high-ranking prison official allegedly ordered Knox into his office at night and wanted to talk about sex.

"I think the Italian courts, the first time around, practically made sure that Amanda was going to be harassed in prison since they made her sex life so much of a focus of the first trial, " said Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach who has covered the case extensively.

Shortly after her arrest, prison officials tricked Knox, falsely telling her that her medical check-up revealed that she was HIV positive and asked her for a list of lovers for health reasons. The list that a distraught Knox provided to officials was soon leaked and became headlines in tabloid newspapers.

"Please, oh please," she wrote in her prison diary at the time. "Let it not be true. I don't want to die."

ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said that Knox could have the basis for a lawsuit but filing one would require a return to Italy.

Knox, 24, was released from prison earlier this month when she and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, successfully appealed their murder conviction. They had been accused of murdering Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher in a cottage the two women shared in Perugia, Italy.

Sollecito has not spoken publicly since his release but his father told the press that his son is getting used to being at home.

"It's as if he has been reborn and he is getting used to the simple things in life again, things that he has not been able to do for four years and this will take some time," said Francesco Sollecito.

Meanwhile, a juror who overturned Knox's conviction told Italy's state-run RAI television that he has no doubt that Knox and Sollecito are innocent.

"I saw the faces of these two kids, and they couldn't bluff. They didn't bluff. My point of view is that these kids weren't guilty. They weren't there," said Mauro Chialli.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio