The gift that keeps on giving - a gift card

Lawton_Local retailers opened their doors Wednesday to the post Christmas crowds.  Traditionally, retailers say it's a very hectic day - customers in long lines demanding returns and refunds for unwanted gifts.  And, they got an early start this year.  Stores all over Lawton opened their doors early to help thin out the crowds.

But, this year, retailers say it's not so bad - they think it may have to do with all the plastic everyone got for Christmas.  Gift cards have been one of the biggest sellers - and that may have done the trick.

George Smith and his wife say they were dreading the trip to the mall to return a couple of shirts and other items.  "I thought it was going to be a long line," says Smith.  But, it wasn't - they were in and out in less than five minutes.

Salesperson Bertha Rollison arrived for work at 5:30am; her store, along with many others in Lawton, opened at 6am to give shoppers a chance to stay out of long return lines.  "It's kind of slow, because...and that's unusual. Usually it's the crowdedest time of year.  There's a lot of refunds, lot of returns, people standing in line, but not today," she says.

Retailers say shoppers may have also got the gifts right this year - along with all the shopping cards they purchased.  The National Retail Federation says 61% of shoppers gave gift cards this year, that way, people were sure to get the gift they want and reduce return rates.  "I have a sister who is impossible to please, so I found that gift cards seem to work better for her," says another shopper.

Even Wal-Mart had fewer returns and that's good news for business.  "More people are saying, 'I'm going to get a gift card for that person I'm buying for, so they can get what they want.' And I think that may have impacted the amount of returns that we're getting," says Wal-Mart Manager Mike Hayes.

Even though lines were short, retailers say they expect them to be a little longer this weekend.  And, there are some tips to keep your returns hassle free:  save all of your receipts, save all the original gift packaging (some retailers won't take it back if you don't), bring a picture ID (some retailers won't give a return without it) - and, don't delay, it may be busy, but the sooner you do it, the better return or exchange you can get.