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Santa doesn't always get it right. And for many Metro Detroiters, that meant a trip to the mall Friday to exchange presents, spend gift cards and shop the post-Christmas sales.

"This is the second busiest day of the shopping year for the most part," said Liz Stickel, regional sales manager for Claire's jewelry store, which was selling all jewelry for $5 or less. "We have to clear it out, with the end of the fiscal year upon us. Spring is coming and we've got to restock."

The Claire's accessories store at Macomb Mall in Roseville was full of young shoppers spending gift cards they received for Christmas.

Kandance Gantt of Harper Woods brought her daughter, Darianna, 13, to spend her gift card.

"I figured there would be more deals after Christmas, more sales," she said. "So this way she could get more bang for her buck."

Angelina Chapa, 10, used her gift card to get her ears pierced.

"We were just using up gift cards after Christmas and she decided to be brave and do her ears," said her mother, Keri Randazzo.

Malls across Metro Detroit reported a similar story of bustling sales, particularly with gift cards. That's important for stores because gift cards don't contribute to a company's bottom line until they are spent.

Cathy O'Malley at Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn said the mall was busy Friday, but it was a different kind of busy than the pre-Christmas sales.

"There's a lot of families here. They're in a relaxed mood, no rush," she said. "They know the sales are going to continue through the weekend."

As for returns: "We're not seeing that many," she said. "I have not been seeing more bags coming in than going out."

Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi was full of people Friday, just as it always is. General Manager Daniel Jones said people are coming in for a variety of reasons, including spending gift cards and cash they received as presents, seeking deep discounts that come with the end of the season and trying to find their wish list items they didn't get.

Returns are also a big part of it, he said.

"I stood at one of our entrances for a while earlier today, and would estimate that about 25 percent were coming in the entrance with bags during that time frame, which leads me to believe they had returns or exchanges to make," Jones said.

NeCole Mills, store manager at Shoe Carnival at Macomb Mall, was surprised there weren't that many people returning items.

"There's definitely not as many returns as I thought were going to happen," she said. "But boots are just flying off the shelves, so sales have been great."

Steve Berlow, general manager at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, said most stores Friday were offering deep discounts and some even had lines out the door. Even those people who are returning items are stopping to shop.

"The sales are too compelling to just make a return," he said.

Some shoppers didn't even wait for the day after Christmas to begin redeeming their gift cards and spending that extra cash. According to the IMB Digital Analytics Benchmark, which tracks online sales, Christmas Day sales were up 8.3 percent over last Christmas.

Sales via mobile devices accounted for 34.8 percent of all online sales Christmas Day. The average order value was $100.33, up 6.2 percent from last year.

Paula Terry was among those who were out shopping at Macomb Mall on Friday, spending gift cards. It's something she does every year.

"It's tradition. We always go shopping the day after Christmas," she said. "It's just good deals."

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2127

@laurenarazzaq

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