Perhaps that snazzy electric blue sweater from your favorite aunt isn't quite your type, or maybe that awesome Forever Lazy loungewear you won in the White Elephant gift exchange is a little snug. Don't worry. You're one of the millions that are expected to hit the stores this week to return or exchange holiday gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers returned a record-high $46.28 billion in holiday merchandise in 2011. It remains to be seen if recipients were happier with their gifts this year.
Here's a short checklist to help your trip back to the busy stores, malls and shopping centers a little smoother:
- Know the seller’s return policy and timeline. Retailers often provide extended return/exchange holiday timeframes. Circle those dates on your calendar to avoid missing the date(s).
- Be aware that return policies vary, so confirm before purchasing. Common return policies include cash-back, a credit card refund, a corporate refund check or store credit.
- Check if there are restocking fees for returned items.
- Save your receipt along with any other documentation regarding the purchase. Your receipt serves as proof of purchase.
- Do not open the box. Some businesses will only provide you with a full refund if the merchandise remains in an unopened box. Do note that some retailers will only provide exchanges for open box items.
- Wait a few days to return your item(s) to avoid the "return rush." If you want to avoid the crowds, give it a few days before you set out to make exchanges or returns.