It's beginning to look a lot like the week after Christmas, as exhausted holiday shoppers breathe a sigh of relief and bargain hunters goberserk.

"Everything is half price; this is the time to do it," said Lynn Tracy, a Pasadena resident who bought a cart-load of gift wrap and decorations at Frank's Nursery in Pasadena. "These prices are half of what you would have paid a week ago."


Buying leftover merchandise is popular among shoppers and welcomed by businesses, according to Chuck Neal, assistant manager at Frank's.

"They just know it's going to happen. They're waiting for it," he said of the bargain shoppers that kept his store bustling most of the day. "This will stay on until sometime after New Year's."


While most businesses will follow suit, Marjorie Burns, manager of the Christmas Store in downtown Annapolis, bucks the tide. She restocks hershelves with decorations and ornaments year-round.

Although her merchandise is not marked down after the holi

days, Burns says customers will continue to visit throughout the year.

"By the end of this week, there will be nothing left on the shelf," she predicted. "It's wall-to-wall people. We're having a pretty good season."

As one of the few area businesses not forced to unload Christmas decorations immediately, Burns counts herself lucky. Shopping for Christmas decorations -- even at full price -- is a full-time occupation for somepeople.

"We're not knocking it," she said as people packed into her store yesterday. "It lifts your spirits."

Even Christmas trees fell victim to the bargain hunters, said Florida Greenery Inc. owner Mike Lyons. He sells a variety of greenery on the Earleigh Heights Fire Station grounds.

The company sold 3- to 12-foot trees for $10 and up this year -- several dollars less than it charged during the company's first 11 years in business. And there were still plenty left to donate to local charities.


"Last year, we didn't have one tree left," Lyons said. "This time, we were left with a few hundred."

In addition to offering a chance for bargain hunters to binge to theirheart's content, the day after Christmas also gives retailers a chance to assess their holiday sales. And while some reported growth, most say they are feeling the effects of the current economic downturn.

"Sales are down about 20 percent this year. We're not selling as much," said Beth Yeagle, manager at Annapolis Clothiers in downtown Annapolis, which sells city memorabilia and casual clothing.

While she attributes some of the decline to the success of nearby malls, sherefuses to hold the economy blameless.

"A lot of people are just not spending as much," she said.