The Best Tips You Need To Know When Making Holiday Returns

By Kristi Eckert | Published

holiday returns retail industry

Holiday returns are one of those unfortunate inevitabilities. After Christmas shoppers flood retailers looking to exchange or return their unwanted items, reportedly upwards of $15o billion worth, for ones they would have rather gotten under the tree. The thing is, actually returning your holiday gift could be a lot more difficult than you bargained for. 

The best singular tip for making holiday returns successfully is to make them as soon as physically possible. ABC7’s Nina Pineda emphasized how many retailers have revised their return windows to be far shorter than in years past. Retailers, like consumers, are grappling with fears of a recession in 2023, and want to keep as much revenue as possible from all the holiday sales. Shortening return policies can help to safeguard those initial sales further. 

Additionally, inflation has caused retailers to be inundated with excess merchandise. The holidays likely helped them offload some of that extra stock. A shorter holiday returns policy helps to stop them from re-absorbing that inventory. Hence, it’s best to get your holiday returns done as soon as you can. 

However, considering that so many retailers have made changes to their holiday returns policies, before setting out to give back an unwanted gift make sure you do your research. Knowing ahead of time what to expect can save you and the employee processing the return a huge headache. For instance, Best Buy charges a 15% restocking fee for returning electronics, regardless if they were a gift. Preparing yourself for that ahead of time means you won’t be blindsided when you actually go to make the return. 

Furthermore, to have the best chance of receiving full credit for any holiday returns you make, it’s imperative that you leave those items in their original packaging. Many retailers will take a percentage off, or not accept the item at all if you attempt to return an opened item. It’s also worth noting that holiday returns for clothing are getting stricter, too. Retail expert Gina Curko told ABC7 that some retail stores are even instructing their employees to sniff the clothing to make sure there aren’t any signs the item in question hasn’t been worn. 

Another great tip to keep in mind when making holiday returns is to return the items to a brick-and-mortar store whenever possible. Numerous retailers now charge the returner shipping costs to take back the item. And depending on the size of the item and the distance it has to travel, shipping can get rather costly. 

Lastly, waste-not want-not. Just because you don’t necessarily like or have a need for a particular gift, doesn’t mean someone else that you know doesn’t, or will eventually. Regifting (although in some cases frowned upon) is a good idea when the item is of nice quality or has a genuine practical use. If you have some more holiday parties coming up, keep your unwanted gift as a “just in case.” Or perhaps even hold onto it for an occasion that calls for a gift later in the year.