What to know about returning holiday gifts this season

Many retailers are offering extended returns during the holidays

With the holidays now in the rearview mirror, many consumers are left with a pile of gifts that may need to be returned. However, knowing each store’s return schedule and policies can be confusing and difficult. 

To help parse through the specifics, including which stores offer consumers extended holiday returns throughout the season, Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com, shared his expert insights with ConsumerAffairs. 

Know before you go

According to James, information is key for consumers looking to return gifts this holiday season. 

“The biggest thing to know is when the cutoff for returning an item is,” James said. “Many retailers offer an extended return period for holiday shopping that often gives you until mid- to late-January. So, do a quick Google search for your store and find out when you need to make the return by.”

When it comes to consumers getting store credit or money back when returning, James says that receipts give shoppers some extra power. 

“Most stores will only give you store credit on the current selling price of an item if you don't have your receipt...plus they'll track your returns and cut you off if you make too many returns without a receipt,” he said. “If you want money back to your original form of payment you almost always need your receipt.” 

While most stores will make it easy on consumers without receipts to make returns for store credit, not all are. Some retailers have strict policies and may tell shoppers to contact the gift-giver to try and get proof of the purchase.

Some stores that will always allow returns without receipts include: Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target, TJ Maxx, and Walmart. 

Which stores have the best return policies? 

James has identified several stores that have the most customer-friendly return policies, as well as those that make it harder on consumers. 

Here is James’ list of the stores with the best return policies: 

- Costco - Unlimited return days on everything except electronics (90 days).

- Kohl's - Return any item, anytime, for any reason.

- Nordstrom - Free returns, with no timeframe, either via mail or in-store.

- Target - 90 days PLUS a receipt at Target is not a requirement for a return.

- Amazon - Very easy return process and they actually let you keep some stuff you try to return.

Here is James’ list of stores with the worst return policies: 

- Best Buy - They only give you 15 days to make a return and you have to pay a restocking fee on many items.

- Apple - They only give you 14 lousy return days and you must have your receipt.

- SHEIN - The popular online clothing store gives you a decent 35 days to return stuff, but only the first item in your return is free, and they make you jump through a bunch of hoops to get your return sent back to China.

Extended holiday returns

Over three dozen stores are offering customers extended return opportunities throughout the holiday season. Some of these include Apple, HomeGoods, Nike, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Staples, Target, Walmart, and more. 

To see the full list of stores with long-term holiday return policies, click here

Could your debt be reduced or forgiven? Take our financial relief quiz.