‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the mall, credit was flowing on sales big and small.

The day after Christmas is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Holiday sales this year are expected to rise some 3.6 percent, according to the latest U.S. Retail Holiday Shopping Mid-Season Update from Mastercard SpendingPulse.

It's the strongest growth since 2010, when the effects of the Great Recession were still lingering.

Who goes shopping on Dec. 26?

Throngs.

When you have to return that neon-green shirt from sweet but colorblind Uncle Albert, or the necklace with the skull and crossbones from your nephew who also happens to be a big death metal fan, sometimes you just bite the bullet and go.

But many trips to return merchandise turn into shopping extravaganzas all their own.

Margie Rodriguez, carrying two armloads of bags outside J.C. Penney Tuesday, said she returned close to $200 in clothing, but spent nearly twice that in new purchases.

“I didn’t plan to spend more money,” she said, laughing. “But I found a cute top and a few odds and ends.”

Valley Plaza Mall, probably the biggest indoor shopping center in the southern valley, was crowded, but not crazy, Tuesday.

Shoppers were in every store — from Shiekh Womens fashion footwear to Urban Decay, Cozy Fox to The Raider Image, a store dedicated to merchandise for fans of the Oakland NFL team. (If you’re a Cowboys fan, you may want to avoid.)

A huge overstuffed green chair, where countless children met Santa this holiday season, was strangely empty. The jolly elf is rumored to be vacationing on an undisclosed tropical island half a world away from the North Pole.

Ironically, all eight of the nearby massage chairs designed to soothe the pains of tired shoppers were in use.

Longtime Bakersfield resident Bob Johnson was plopped down in one of those chairs, a couple of shopping bags at his feet.

“My wife is out there somewhere," he said, gesturing into the crowd. “She’s got more stamina than me.”

They didn’t bring any returns, he said of the shopping marathon. It was more about catching some after-Christmas bargains — and yes, getting a jump on next Christmas.

Asked on Facebook about doing some after-Christmas shopping, Bakersfield resident Brandon Hardin said he had choices Tuesday, and shopping got the short straw.

“I have returns,” Hardin said. “However, I made an executive decision and I'm heading to Lengthwise for ‘Centennial Tuesday’ in lieu of going to Macy's.”

Hardin even included a pic of a partially consumed beer, or, as he said, “visual evidence for the sake of credibility.”

Longtime local Lisa Kimble Edmonston also seemed less than anxious to do more shopping. Christmas is over, she seemed to be saying. Let it die a peaceful death.

"Our kids are wading into that mess," she said of the shopping experience. "I'd rather re-wash by hand days' worth of dishes."

Christmas is over for another year. And while plenty of people appear ready to keep the momentum going, it's clear others are craving something more akin to a long winter's nap.

Bakersfield resident and Facebooker LeonorLi Matthews Gibbs appeared not at all enthused about fighting more crowds on the day after Christmas.

"Not leaving the house today," she said.

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