ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It's very rare to go through Christmas without getting something you don't want. So the day after is typically busy for returns and bargains. The crowds haven't been quite what retailers expected.
It was a slow start for most retailers today and several customer told us they were shocked at the smaller crowds. We spoke with shoppers at CherryVale Mall earlier today who say they were expecting to see more people during the after Christmas Day deals.
"I thought I would have to hurry and find a parking spot," said holiday shopper, Deb Fuca.
For Fuca, the day after Christmas brings great deals, big crowds and an even bigger headache. To her surprise, a trip to the mall was painless.
"Quite honestly I have not been to the mall as much in the last few years, but I really expected a bigger crowd today, so I was pleasantly surprised, it makes it a little easier to shop,” Fuca said.
That was the reaction of most shoppers as they took advantage of the dozens of after Christmas deals. Holiday sales increased just 0.7%, which is well below the 4% jump analysts expected.
"My wife and I both are employed but the money's just not there this year but we saved a little bit."
Joe Humphreys thinks people just aren't as willing to spend their money.
This year holiday sales were the weakest since 2008 even in the crowds after Christmas Day. Analysts blame the fiscal cliff for disappointing numbers, but Tre Brown says he disagrees.
“I think the average consumer is going to shop anyway, they may not shop as much, but I think a person would come to the mall regardless. I don't really think certain situations make them not want to shop,” says Brown.
Most customers say they saw larger crowds before Christmas. Several retailers including Best Buy have special discounts until Saturday.
Despite disappointing retail sales, online sales continue to grow. According to IBM, we spent about 22% more shopping online, than in the past.