Suburban shoppers eager to take advantage of post-holiday sales and clearance racks continued to swarm retailers on Friday.
Those who had to return Christmas gifts had the perfect excuse to also line up at cash registers for discounts of 40 to 75 percent on holiday decorations, seasonal merchandise, clothes, appliances and other items.
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Among the bargain hunters was Rob Stern of Algonquin, who bought a leather jacket marked down from $100 to $40 at Sears in Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall. He also bought a Yankee candle as a gift for a friend.
"I haven't been to the mall in a while and I just wanted to see what was out there," he said.
The parking lot was packed as incoming cars cruised aisle after aisle for open spots. While official traffic numbers weren't available, Woodfield remained consistently busy on Thursday and Friday with bargain seekers, said Mary Wei, assistant director of marketing and business development for Woodfield.
Judy Graves of Mount Prospect found herself buying bath and body products at Adore Cosmetics and even a toy for her grandson.
"Oh, my gosh, they twisted my arm," Graves joked.
Her shopping friend, Barb Roth of Arlington Heights, came along to exchange some gifts.
Ann Metzel, of San Francisco, returned to her native Gurnee to visit family and bought a skirt for 50 percent off at the Woodfield Nordstrom's. Meanwhile, her mother, Marge Evert of Gurnee, was sidetracked by a half-off silver bracelet.
"We just thought we'd come and spend the day," said Evert.
Workers at Sears were busy helping customers return gifts and buy others as red-and-white signs boasted 50 or 55 percent off and yellow signs announced clearance sales. Customers favored home appliances, clothes and tools for after-Christmas bargains, said Sears store manager Stephen Myers.
"We have a lot of motivated people here to help members (shoppers) find their deals," said Myers.