There are always a few gifts that don’t make the cut, and this year was no different.  I like to return them as soon as possible—and that also means I can check out clearance deals, too.

My daughter and I made a trip to neighboring New Hampshire, to the small town of Keene.  (For pretty much everyone who lives in our town, this is about as far as we go anymore, a trip of 30 minutes, tops.)  We hit Walmart, Kohls, Target, Michael’s, Home Goods and TJ Maxx. 

Guess what?  There were precious few sale items this year.  The shelves were completely bare in entire sections in some stores (and others had already moved in all the Valentine’s Day items). 

I even asked one Target employee if there were a clearance section that we somehow just didn’t see.  She confirmed what we suspected. “No,” she said.  “We were cleared out weeks before Christmas.  It was a really great season this year.”

Strong sales at the end of the year?  That’s a silver lining for retailers!