Shoppers, retailers bustle with returns

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – The Christmas Day shopping lull was over in the blink of an eye, as post-holiday sales were set to draw hordes out on Friday for the second-busiest shopping day of the year.

Across the country, retailers are expecting $65 billion in post-Christmas returns this year, one-fourth of all holiday spending.

The Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles was full of shoppers Friday as soon as the doors opened at 8 a.m.

Shoppers took advantage of Eastwood Mall opening its doors at eight a-m. It was a dual purpose trip for some, shopping for end-of-season bargains and returning gifts.

“A few things, yes. With five kids it’s a couple of things. I lucked out this season,” said Brigitt Berk of Warren.

Retailers bank on shoppers picking up a few extra things as they return gifts. According to the National Retail Federation, the week after Christmas can account for as much as 15 percent of the sales during the holiday season.

The National Retail Federation says the industry will lose close to $11 billion to return fraud this year, with almost $4 billion happening during the holidays.  Because of that, 70 percent of stores require a photo ID without a receipt. And even If you have a receipt, you still might be asked for your ID.

“I like that as well. Yes, definitely. It is good protection,” Berk said. “I have the receipts. I am a saver with the receipts, so I think it is a good idea to have the store tickets on them. I leave tickets on when I give gifts.”

While plenty of people were out Friday making returns, they also were trying to cash in on the best deals. Some retailers had signs advertising up to 75 percent off, but some of those discounts were for select items only.

Some shoppers say post holiday deals are the best savings, and having gifts cards are an added bonus.

“I think the sales are better actually,” Anntonette Avery of Warren said.

Retailers are going out of their way to accommodate customer returns with loose requirements through January for holiday returns. Some online retailers such as Zappos are offering free return shipping for their online customers.

Getting the most out of a holiday return should always involve a gift or sales receipt, but not all customers will have one. Below are some guidelines to help make the process easier:

  • Keep original packaging.
  • Make sure all gifts are returned in the condition they were purchased.
  • To ensure you get the full return price, make sure to bring a receipt. If not, retailers may give the current, marked down price or issue a gift card.

At Walmart, you’ll get a cash refund for purchases under $25 without a receipt or a shopping card if it’s over $25. For Best Buy customers, you have about a three-week window to return your gift. If it was bought between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, you have until Jan. 15 to hand it back. Of course, elite members get more time, according to ConsumerWorld.org.

Target offers “free returns” for something bought online meaning they will pay for return postage. Several places are doing this, but sometimes it’s only in certain categories. Macy’s has some exclusions, Amazon only does this for certain fashion items, Old Navy is storewide.

Target also allows a 90-day return for most items except for electronics and entertainment items – those only get 30 days. But that 30 days begins Dec. 26 for purchases since Nov. 1.

Kohl’s doesn’t have a deadline.

Toys R Us gives customers until Jan. 24 to return most items purchased after Sept.1. But electronics like computer hardware and tablets should be taken back by Jan. 9.

ConsumerWorld.org states that you have to report certain damaged goods to Sears within 72 hours or you won’t get a refund. They charge a 15 percent restocking fee on electronics missing parts; mattresses and canceled special orders. They also offer 30, 60 and 90 day returns. It just depends on the item.

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