What happens on December 26?


CULLMAN – We at The Tribune hope that you had a merry Christmas; but that day is now behind us and Dec. 26, the day of returned gifts, is upon us.  Of all those treasures and trinkets that got bought before Christmas, just how many are going back from where they came?  Is there anything else special about this day?

Retail and returns

According to RetailNext and Business Insider, Dec. 26 is the fifth-busiest day of the Christmas shopping season for shopper visits to stores, though it doesn’t even make the top 10 days for sales.  On average, about 15 percent of gifts purchased during the Christmas shopping season will be returned.

If you’re going to have to return items for refund or exchange, the National Retail Federation (NRF) recommends that you:

  • Put items back in original packaging, and try to keep that packaging in good shape
  • Keep tags/stickers on clothing and other goods until you know you’re keeping them
  • Get the receipt or a gift return receipt
  • Practice patience!

You probably don’t even need to go stand in line right now.  This time of year, retailers often extend their return periods.  For many, any purchase made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 can be returned until Jan. 15 or even until Jan. 31.  Call and ask!

All this talk of returns doesn’t mean that the 26th is a bad day to shop, though.  While 15 percent of pre-Christmas purchases will be returned, up to 15 percent of seasonal sales will take place in the week following Christmas.  The NRF even pointed out that up to 70 percent of customers making returns will buy something else while they’re in the store. 

In an article for U.S. News and World Report, Kendal Perez wrote in 2016, “Retailers try to capitalize on consumers' desires to spend gift cards and return gifts that missed the mark by offering discounts on remaining holiday inventory, gifts, toys and electronics.  Many stores take a Black Friday-like approach to store hours, with some opening doors as early as 6 a.m. on the day after Christmas.”

Perez recommended using the day to shop for “clothing, gift sets, holiday-themed products, decor and wrapping supplies.  “Anything holiday-related will see discounts of 50 percent or more on Dec. 26.  Consumers who want to save on decor, gift wrap and holiday-themed items like pajamas and accessories should shop post-Christmas sales.  Gift sets, like those provided by beauty and fragrance brands, are also good buys from department stores and specialty retailers since they're packaged specifically for holiday giving.  Clothing is another top seller after the holidays since retailers are looking ahead to the new year and the rollout of spring styles in February.”  See www.money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-12-07/the-best-days-for-holiday-shopping-in-december.

Julie Ramhold of DealNews recommended that this year’s after-Christmas shoppers should be on the lookout for extra good deals on clothing, exercise equipment, the ever-popular bargain Christmas decor, video games and electronics.  See www.dealnews.com/features/what-to-expect-from-after-christmas-sales.

Dec. 26 holidays

There are even ways that Dec. 26 is significant for reasons that don’t involve standing in any lines.  In many places around the world, this day is celebrated as its own holiday.

Boxing Day

In Great Britain and the present and some former countries of the British Commonwealth, the first weekday after Christmas has been observed as “Boxing Day” since at least the 1600s.  Public servants such as mailmen and garbage collectors would visit their customers to receive small “Christmas boxes” containing gifts meant to thank them for their service.  At many places of employment, low-ranking employees could expect the same privilege.

The tradition goes back to an even earlier British practice among upper economic class estates, in which household servants who worked on Christmas Day would be given the following day off to go home and visit their families.  They would often be given small boxes of gifts to take with them.

Feast of St. Stephen

If you’ve ever really listened to the carol “Good King Wenceslas,” you know that the good King “went down on the Feast of Stephen” to discover a poor man shivering and hungry in the cold.  In western church history, the Feast of St. Stephen the Martyr of Jerusalem is celebrated on Dec. 26 (Dec. 27 in Eastern Orthodox traditions).  It is a national holiday in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine and Switzerland, among others.

In various places in Europe, the festival is celebrated with parades, dances and dinners.  In some places there is a particular interest in horses, with horseback rides, rides in horse-drawn wagons or sleighs and the blessing of horses in churches.

Good luck out there.  May the deals ever be in your favor, and may you come home with what you really wanted.  Be safe, be patient and behave.

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