What Every Consumer Should Know About Returning Holiday Gifts

What Every Consumer Should Know About Returning Holiday Gifts

Image: Zero Creatives for Getty

Gift-giving is such a guessing game, which is why Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert, suggests that if you’re not sure what to give, give a gift card. “After all, gift cards have been one of the most requested gifts for over a decade, according to the National Retail Federation, so you can’t go wrong. You can make gift cards more personal by designing your own with a photo or message through GiftCardGranny’s Build-a-Card service. They ship the same day or next day!”

Keep reading for a look at the top 3 things Bodge says shoppers need to know about returning unwanted gifts

  • Before you ship anything back or head to the store to return something, familiarize yourself with that retailer’s return policy. Typically, you have between 2-4 weeks into January to return something that was purchased during the holiday shopping season.
  • Gift receipts are gold. Make it easy on your recipient and aim to include a gift receipt with all gifts.
  • The items should be in sellable condition. For example, apparel should have tags on and anything that came in a box should be in a box.

When is the ideal time to return in-store?

If you’re returning in-store, Bodge says to try to return after New Year’s. “The week between Christmas and New Year’s is peak returning time, so you’ll probably face long lines and stressed sales associates.”

What should we know about returning online?

“Returning is expensive for retailers. While some e-tailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair, will sometimes issue a credit but tell you to keep the merchandise to offset the expense of a return, some e-tailers, like JCPenney, J. Crew, and Abercrombie, are now charging for returns for the same reason. You should no longer expect returns to be free of shipping
charges,” says Bodge.

Image: Liam Norris for Getty

What to do if you miss the return window?

Bodge suggest selling unwanted gifts through online marketplaces. “There’s a marketplace for pretty much everything from clothing to cameras. For example, MPB.com specializes in camera and videography equipment and you can sell or trade for a different model or brand that is inspected with a 60-day warranty – either way, MPB makes it very easy.”

For smaller items she says to consider re-gifting. “I keep a shelf in a closet expressly for this purpose. Everything is in pristine condition and ready to re-gift. Gift swaps with friends are also fun! A friend’s ‘no’ gift could be a ‘yes’ gift for you. You can also donate unwanted gifts. There is always someone who could use it.”

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