If any place was more mobbed with shoppers looking for post-Christmas bargains than the ravaged shoes stores yesterday, it was the Framingham Best Buy. Nodding toward the lines of waiting customers and shoppers examining cameras, computers, high-definition televisions and other electronic toys, Best Buy manager Jamie Lyman shook his head and commented about the day's business compared with Dec. 26 last year. ``This is ridiculous. This is busier than Christmas Eve right now'' – and Christmas Eve was not easy to beat, he said.
If any place was more mobbed with shoppers looking for post-Christmas bargains than the ravaged shoes stores yesterday, it was the Framingham Best Buy.
Nodding toward the lines of waiting customers and shoppers examining cameras, computers, high-definition televisions and other electronic toys, Best Buy manager Jamie Lyman shook his head and commented about the day's business compared with Dec. 26 last year.
``This is ridiculous. This is busier than Christmas Eve right now'' – and Christmas Eve was not easy to beat, he said.
``We had a ton of last-minute shopping, people were banging on the door at 5 p.m., when we were closed, trying to get in,'' Lyman said.
Yesterday, the most popular purchases at Best Buy were: Wii, followed by “Guitar Hero III,” “Rock Band” (which is Guitar Hero with drums), digital cameras (``humongous'') and GPS sales, which were ``ridiculous,'' said Lyman.
``Today was just outstanding - a top-10 type of day,'' said Jon Hurst, president of the Mass. Association of Retailers, attributing healthy post-Christmas business to the growing trend of giving gift cards.
Under their own accounting rules, most businesses do not count gift cards as purchases until they are redeemed, Hurst said.
Traditionally, Dec. 26 has been a day of returns and exchanges, but the advent of the gift card - growing at a double-digit rate - has made it a day of personal shopping where consumers often spend more than the face-value, said Hurst.
Best Buy in Shopper's World on Rte. 9, had ``a ton'' of gift card revenue - and hordes of people rushed out to redeem those cards yesterday, Lyman said.
Sales Friday through Sunday ``really made the season,'' said Hurst.
What amounted to a four-day weekend for many people ``created a lot more procrastinators this year'' - as evidenced by mass purchases this weekend that accounted for about half of all sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Hurst.
``This past weekend was just gangbusters,'' and from his personal observations, Hurst said, yesterday was shaping up nicely for retailers as well.
Hurst did not have numbers at 5 p.m. yesterday, but said he'd be ``very, very surprised'' if Dec. 26 sales didn't beat those in 2006.
By 11 yesterday morning, Needham resident/shopper Jackie Klein had already spent three hours shopping, snagged a laptop on sale at Best Buy, made a few exchanges, and was well on her way to a new pair of discounted shoes at the Framingham Kohl's, she said.
``I'm taking the rest of the day to do this,'' Klein said.
At Kohl's, rows of shoes in disarray gave a glimpse of the shopping madness, as did toddlers and children finding entertainment in playing hide-and-seek and pulling colorful items off shelves and onto the floor as their busy, oblivious parents focused on bargain-hunting.
Serious shoppers stuffed as many as six or seven items under one arm while inspecting more goodies with the other. Others armed themselves with empty bags and charged toward the clothing section, ready to fill them with pieces marked 50 to 70 percent off - the norm at Kohl's yesterday.
One Kohl's shopper said she was on a mission to find one more gift for a neighbor who had kindly given her a Christmas present, but for whom she did not think to purchase one.
Lorina Vernovai of Peterborough, N.H., was happy to hit Kohl's with her daughters, Terri Coupland, also of Peterborough, and Elaine Pettit, of Newton yesterday.
``We shop at Kohl's a lot - we love it,'' Pettit said.
The woman had just started their shopping excursion, checking out deals on belts by late morning, but they were confident about finding a few things to take home.
``I'm sure we will. Believe me, we will not leave this store without packages!'' Vernovai said, laughing.
The vast space and wide hallways at the recently expanded Natick Collection eased crowding yesterday and made assessing actual business difficult to pin down, said Pauline Contino, a Maynard resident.
Contino and her husband, Joseph, do the majority of their Christmas shopping every year on Dec. 26, they said. This year, they only had to buy two gifts in the weeks preceding the holiday, she said.
Pauline shops, and he holds the bags and pays the bills, she said.
``That system works out for us,'' Pauline said, laughing.
Ray, a Southborough resident whose wife shushed him before he could give his full name, was another designated bag-holder at the Natick Collection yesterday. By mid-afternoon, he was lugging around four full bags from Nordstrom and NorthFace, and was expecting several more from Clark's shoes and Macy's, he said.
``I don't know what I'm gonna do - they keep on buying,'' he said with a laugh.
Joyce Kelly can be reached at 508-626-4423 or email@example.com.