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Often a retailer’s nightmare, the day after Christmas at some exchange stores in Europe was apparently less hectic for returns, but busy for post-holiday sales.

In Bamberg, Germany, business was slow all around on what is ordinarily one of the busiest retail days of the year, said Thomas Kuttamperoor, main exchange store manager.

His store was fully staffed in preparation to speed up lines at customer service and checkouts for post-holiday sale items.

“We had a lot more returns last year,” Kuttamperoor said. “People must have made smart purchases this year. We haven’t had any major rushes at customer service.”

“We normally have bargains galore on holiday items the day after Christmas, but we sold most of those at full price before Christmas,” he added.

However, it was a different story at the much larger store at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, which helps serve the largest military community in Europe.

“Sales have been pretty brisk today,” Steve Johnson, the store’s operations manager, said Thursday. “Most of our customer traffic has been on the sales floor, not at customer service.”

Johnson said the store’s customer service section was 100 percent operational, but the staff wasn’t keeping incredibly busy. Cashiers, meanwhile, were swamped with business.

“We have nearly all registers open, and there still are very heavy lines,” he said. “The refunds so far have been less than what we anticipated. Sales are definitely outweighing refunds.”

The same was true for the Naples Navy Exchange.

“We’ve been very busy, but most of that has been in after-Christmas sales,” said Arnie Giannotta, operations manager for the Naples NEX. “We expected a lot of returns and had customer service fully staffed, but there have been few returns. They are handling both returns and purchases. The customers are happy and shopping our after-Christmas sales.”

What may make exchange customers even happier is that returning gifts sent from family members in the States may be easier than they expected.

At main exchange stores overseas, items sold at retail outlets in the States generally can be returned at exchange stores.

“If it’s an item we can sell, as a rule, we accept it,” Johnson said. “We take care of our customers.”

“Nine out of 10 times, we accept items even if they were not purchased at an AAFES store,” he said. “We don’t want to be grinches right after Christmas.”


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