Constant foot traffic, long lines and scarce parking: The scene Monday at Lexington's Hamburg Pavilion was reminiscent of a scaled-back Black Friday, living up to national retail experts' predictions that Monday could be one of the heaviest shopping days of the year.
But not all of those who ventured out planned to spend any extra dough. With broken electronics and clothes that were two sizes too small, people formed long lines at Lexington stores, returning unwanted Christmas gifts.
Justice Adams, 18, walked into Best Buy with a faulty video game system tucked under one arm, hoping to exchange it quickly and get back to playing at home.
He was surprised to see how heavy the crowds were.
"I had to park way back there," he said, pointing to the back of the parking lot. "I thought, 'It's the day after Christmas. Everyone is going to be at home, playing with their gifts.'"
Adams was likely to spend more time in the store than he'd planned. Checkout lines at Best Buy moved briskly, but the lumbering line to return items was about 40 people deep Monday afternoon. Some folks sat in chairs, packages in hand, waiting for their turns at the counter.
Those looking to buy items fared much better.
Gary Bealert of Owingsville said he was grateful he didn't have a return. In just a few minutes, he managed to get in, find a protective case for his new iPad, and get out — the ideal shopping experience for many American men.
Between that and a satisfying meal at Cracker Barrel that was paid for with a gift card, Monday's shopping trip was a pretty successful venture to Lexington, said his wife, Melissa.
People returned gifts with various plans. Some said they would exchange gifts for other items or gift cards; others planned to take the money.
Rene Mitchell, returning a Pandigital tablet computer to Big Lots, said she planned to use the money to buy a different brand of tablet at Sears.
"I got my daughter the wrong one," she said, laughing. "I have to bring it back and get the right one so I can be on the good list again."
Faith Stewart, 21, said she drove from Jackson to shop and to return some clothes that weren't quite her style. While waiting outside Old Navy for a relative to make a return, Stewart said that what was supposed to be relaxed shopping trip turned into a day-long event.
"Hopefully it's almost over," she said.
After spying Monday's thick crowds at Fayette Mall and in Hamburg, Stewart said this probably would be the last time she made her returns on the day after Christmas.
"I'll probably wait a couple weeks, then come back and see how it is," she said.
Still, for those who prefer to sleep in on Black Friday — including Rebecca Burkett of Richmond — the day after Christmas can be a viable alternative. The discounts aren't always as steep and the sale items aren't as exciting, but it's a good way to get a deal.
Burkett said she was doing some past-the-last-minute Christmas shopping, managing to snag some floor mats for her mother for half the marked price.
She didn't see any of the craziness that stereotypical of Black Friday.
"Everybody seems to be enjoying it. There's a lot of people out today, but it's very relaxed," she said.