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This year, retailers are more flexible about returned gifts

The process will go more smoothly if you have a gift receipt or packing slip

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Photo (c) manonallard - Getty Images
A holiday ritual is returning holiday gifts that are the wrong size, the wrong color, and just plain wrong. In this year of the pandemic, making these returns might be a little easier.

A report by Modern Retail, an industry trade publication, notes that the crush of online purchasing that has occurred since March has caused retailers to evolve their return policies over the last few months.

“From big box stores to direct to consumer brands, the bottleneck effect created by the pandemic’s online shopping boom has pushed retailers to push back return windows,” the publication writes. “They’re not only there to give consumers more flexibility to get refunds, but also enough time for customer service reps to process returns safely.”

Amazon returns

Amazon has a special section of its website just for returning a gift. You’ll find it here. Some things to know are:

  • You’ll need an Amazon account;

  • You’ll need the order number from the purchase;

  • If you’re the person who received the returned gift, you’ll receive the amount of the purchase as an Amazon gift card.

Walmart returns

Walmart extended grace periods on returns and exchanges early in the pandemic and is still showing some leniency. Walmart explains how to return a gift here. Most gifts, with some exceptions, can be returned even if purchased online.

Walmart accepts returns at all of its stores. Ideally, Walmart would like all packaging, materials, and accessories that came with the item. If you don't have the packing slip or a receipt, and your item was purchased on Walmart.com, provide the order number or the email address of the sender. 

If you have a receipt or packing slip and you're within the return window, you can return the item for cash or a Walmart gift card. 

Target returns

At Target, most unopened items sold by Target in new condition and returned within 90 days will receive a refund or exchange. There are exceptions, but they will be noted on the receipt or packing slip.

Items that are opened or damaged or do not have a receipt may be denied a refund or exchange, however. New Jersey stores will continue to observe state-ordered return restrictions. 

Target outlines its gift return policy here.

As explained by Modern Retail, the expanded return time frame is not only a courtesy to consumers but to allow for the safe handling of returned items during a pandemic. 

Some companies plan to set aside returned items for at least a day before they are handled by store personnel. Most items will go through a cleaning process before they are restocked.

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