Tri-City Ledger -

Tips and guidelines for returning gifts this year


January 2, 2020

The fuzzy Christmas cat sweater isn’t your style?

It’s okay if the Christmas presents you received are not on par. Returning a Christmas gift can be a source of anxiety for Christmas gift-givers and recipients. However, there is no need to worry.

Most retailers accept returns as a matter of normal business.

Consumer Responsibility

“Take a gift back as quickly as possible, even though many stores don’t have a time limit,” said Sharlean Briggs, an Alabama Extension family resource management and workforce development regional agent. “If possible, return the item with the tags, box, bag or wrapping paper. This will help in identifying the merchandise.”

Some stores have a 30-day limit.

Others will give credit for the sale price only, and others will allow only an exchange.

To save time, it is easy to call and ask about the store’s policy. It could save a trip.

“Regardless of the store policy, you have the responsibility of returning gifts in good condition,” Briggs said.

Guide for Returning Christmas Presents

As a general guide, the following information can help you.

Most of the large catalog chains accept returned merchandise without question and without receipt.

Department stores usually take returns. However, without a receipt, the store refunds the items on sale at the sale price.

If issues arise, talk to a department manager or the store manager.

National chains graciously accept returns, regardless of the store at which the item was purchased. Many do not require a receipt.

Discount or off-price stores usually require a receipt for refunds.

These retailers are more likely to have a time limit, usually 30 days. On the other hand, outlet stores do not usually take returns.

Small boutiques and individual stores have the most stringent policies.

Some do not accept returns; others have a seven-day limit. Expect many to only allow an exchange or give in-store credit.

Check for the number of days you have to return or exchange the item.

If you have to ship it back, take days in transit into account.

Find out if you must use a trackable shipping method or insure the item that you are sending back to the seller.

This is often required for large electronics, art or other expensive purchases.

More Information

For more holiday tips and home-and family-related information, visit


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