Holiday Return Policies at Popular Stores

Is Time Running Out?

Holiday presents
Lumina/Stocksy United

Many stores are offering special extended holiday return policies allowing shoppers extra time to refund or exchange unwanted gifts. Most of the national retail chains, department stores and a handful of online retailers offer at least a two-week extension (into mid-January) for holiday returns, however, some stores extend the return deadline even longer.

This Year Look for Longer, but Tougher Return Policies

While the time to return merchandise has increased, many retailers have toughened up their return policies.

Most retailers will stand firm on refunding money to customers who fail to produce a receipt. Are you bad about throwing out the original packaging of the things that you buy? If so, be prepared to be handed a store credit, minus a hefty restocking fee.

Are your children prone to handling instruction manuals with sticky fingers? If you need to return the item, a messed up manual can cost you an average of 15 percent of the price of the item.

Remember the days when you could return your tight worn jeans because you broke the zipper? For the most part, those days are gone. Used or worn items are usually non-refundable unless there is product defect (which doesn't include customer wear and tear).

The Flexible Return Window

Stores with multiple product categories usually have multiple return deadlines. For example, the average return policy is set at 30 to 60 days, but with a 15-day return window on electronics, cameras, computers and game consoles.

Today, it is common to see apparel stores with no refund policies on evening and formal wear.

Tracking Customers' Returns

The National Retail Federation (NRF) Return Fraud Survey found that returns account for billions in lost sales for US retailers. Within that number, return fraud and abuse accounted for a significant percent of all return dollars.

This is not unknown news to major retailers. The loss prevention teams at stores like Walmart, Target and TJMax have tracked customers' returns for years. Walmart shoppers cannot exceed three returns without receipts within 45 days, or they risk having all future returns denied. TJMax and Target reserve the right to deny a customer an exchange or refund based on the shopper's return habits.

Stores With the Best Holiday Return Policies:

Amazon.com

Amazon extends the return deadline during the holiday season. Items shipped by Amazon.com between November 1—December 31, may be returned until January 31 for a full refund, subject to regular return guidelines.  Items shipped from sellers other than Amazon.com are subject to this same policies, unless otherwise stated in the seller's individual return policy. Exclusions apply. Groceries, plants, and flowers cannot be returned but may be refundable (whatever that means).

Gift Cards are not returnable after purchase (except as required by law).

Look for possible restocking fees on some computer items. For more information visit Visit Amazon.com

Apple Stores

Items purchased at the Apple Online Store received between November 10—December 25, may be returned through January 8.

There are some items that are ineligible, including opened software, electronic software, downloads, software upgrades, Apple store gift cards, Apple developer products and Apple print products.

If you paid by credit or debit card, refunds will be sent to the card-issuing bank within five business days of receipt of the returned item. Products purchased from the Apple Online Store using an Apple Store Gift Card will be refunded as an Apple Store Gift Card by email within three business days.

If you purchased your item from Apple in the US, you can take it to any US Apple Retail Store for an exchange.

Personalized items and custom-configured Macs may not be eligible for exchange at an Apple Retail Store. For more information visit Apple.com.

Barnes & Noble

Most items purchased in stores and online November 14—December 31, may be returned or exchanged through January 31, when accompanied by a receipt or gift receipt.

NOOK devices purchased November 14—December 31, may be returned or exchanged whether sealed or unsealed through January 31.

Non-refundable items include NOOK digital content and other downloaded purchases, including but not limited to, downloadable PDFs for SparkNotes and Quamut products, gift cards, and shrink-wrapped items that have been opened. 

Important: If your return is shipped or brought to a store after the time frame indicated within their return policy or without a packing slip, they cannot issue a refund or send the merchandise back to you. For more information, visit Barnes & Noble Return Policy.

Bass Pro

Merchandise can be exchanged or refunded within 60 days of purchase. If the item was purchased through the catalog or online, you may return it to the catalog center or the store. Exclusions for mail-in returns includes ammunition, black powder, primers, reloading lead and brass or bullets.

Retail stores will not accept returns on Six Pay orders. Orders placed online and paid for through PayPal must be shipped back to the Bass Pro Returns Center. For more information visit BassPro.com.

Bed Buy & Beyond

Bed Buy & Beyond has a liberal policy with no time limits for returns, except for mattresses. Mattresses can only be exchanged up to 120 days from the purchase date. To receive a refund, the original packing invoice and packaging should accompany the return. 

Exclusions include:

  • Monogrammed, personalized, custom-made or special order items.
  • All baby merchandise must be unused and in the same condition and with the same packaging as when it left the store.
  • All gift cards are non-refundable
  • All non-gift returns of merchandise paid via gift cards will be refunded to the original gift card. A new merchandise credit will be issued for all returns of this type.

For more information visit BedBathBeyond.com.

Best Buy

Purchases made between October 30—December 31, have an extended return period through January 15, excluding items purchased with a third-party contract.

My Best Buy Elite and Elite Plus members have an extended holiday deadline. Elite members have until January 30, 2017, to return or exchange products purchased between October 30—December 31, while Elite Plus members have through February 14. 

Exclusions include:

  • Opened computer software, movies, music or video games can only be exchanged for an identical item.
  • Special Order items are refunded 85 percent of the original purchase price.
  • Custom and personalized orders are non-returnable.
  • Final Sale merchandise is non-returnable.

Important — With a few exceptions, Best Buy will reimburse returned items in the same way it was paid. If you paid $800 or more in cash or more than $250 by check or by a debit card without a major credit card logo, they will refund you by check within 10 business days. For more information visit BestBuy.com.

Cabelas

Cabelas will refund or exchange within 90 days of purchase except for firearms, black powder guns, ammunition, gunpowder, and primers may not be returned due to safety considerations.

Non-Returnable items include outboard motors and Bargain Cave items, customized, personalized and special order items. Other restrictions may apply. For more information visit Cabelas.com.

Costco

Costco has one of the best return policies of all the stores. Shoppers will receive a full refund with no deadline on every product sold. Exceptions include televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touch-screen tablets, iPOD / MP3 players and cellular phones which must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund.

Appliances: Costco changed its policy in 2016 on returning appliances from unlimited to a 90-day policy. It will accept returns within 90 days from the date members received the following items: Refrigerators (more than 10 cubic feet), washers, dryers, dishwashers, freezers, ranges, cooktops, and over-the-range microwaves. For more information visit Costco.com.

Cost Plus World Market

Most items may be returned by mail or at World Market store locations in original condition within 60 days of purchase. Returns will be refunded in the same form of tender as the original transaction.

Gift Cards are not returnable. A gift returned to a store can be issued to the original buyer or you may choose to be issued store credit. If an item is returned without a receipt, a store credit will be issued at the lowest selling price within the past 90 days. Exceptions include bedding, slipcovers, window coverings, shower curtains, jewelry and accessories, framed art or knobs and hooks.

Online Orders Returned to Store: Most items ordered online may be returned to any World Market store for a refund or exchange. A gift return to a store with the original gift receipt will be issued store credit.

Online Orders Returned by Mail: Most items may be returned by mail in original condition within 60 days. Most orders include a prepaid UPS return label. A charge of $6.50 will be deducted from your return credit for use of the label. Shipping costs are non-refundable unless the return is a result of a manufacturing defect or a World Market shipping error. For return past the 60 days, contact World Market Customer Care at 1-877-967-5362. For more information visit WorldMarket.com.

Fry's

For a refund or exchange, most products may be returned within 30 days of the original purchase date. Exclusions apply. The original receipt is required for refunds or exchanges.

Computer software, video games, audio, and video media are returnable only if unopened. If defective, these products will be exchanged for the exact same item only.

Refunds will be issued in the same tender as the purchase was made with the exception of cash purchases. Cash purchases over $500, which will be refunded by a check mailed from Fry's Home Office. Refund checks are mailed on the tenth day from the date the merchandise is returned.

Special order items, cut cable or wire, software downloads, and store value cards are non-returnable.

For more information visit Frys.com.

H H Gregg

Most all returns must be made within 30 days from the original purchase date and accompanied by the original sales receipt or packing slip. Computers, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, related software, hardware, monitors, accessories, and drones must be returned or exchanged within 15 days of purchase. Merchandise must be in its original condition and include all original packing materials, accessories, product manuals and warranty cards. Exclusions apply.

Non-returnable items

Products and services that may not be returned or exchanged include:

  • Labor, delivery and installation services
  • Activation and services fees associated with subscription-based services
  • Pre-paid cards (e.g. gift, music, photo, video, gaming or phone cards)
  • Personalized items
  • Sony (online-only products)
  • Vizio (online-only products)
  • Samsung (online only product)
  • Furniture picked up at store
  • Mattress (no refunds and exchanges are not valid in some states)
  • Mattress foundations, adjustable bases, and pillows (no returns)
  • Non-defective, opened video games, music, movies and computer software

In-store and online purchases can be returned or exchanged at any HHGregg store location, and online orders can also be returned or exchanged by mail. For more information visit hhgregg.com.

Home Depot

Most new, unopened merchandise can be returned within 90 days of purchase with original proof of purchase. If your purchase was made with The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card, The Home Depot Commercial Revolving Charge, or The Home Depot Commercial Account, you have 365 days from the date of purchase to receive a full refund, unless it is listed as an exception.

Exceptions include:

  • Home Depot Gift Cards are non-returnable and cannot be redeemed or exchanged for cash (unless required by law), check or credit.
  • 30-day returns: Consumer Electronics, Furniture, Generators, Gas powered equipment and tractors, not including John Deere tractors.
  • Not returnable items include whole house generators or stationary generators, most custom-made blinds, wallpaper and flooring samples, custom products and utility trailers.
  • Special order returns or cancellations may be subject to a 15 percent restocking fee and must be returned to the same store where the purchase was made

Visit HomeDepot.com for more information.

Kohl's

Special Holiday Return Policy: Premium electronics purchased from November 1—December 25, may be returned by January 31 with original packaging and a valid receipt or account look-up. This is a policy change that took effect in 2016. There are no time restrictions for other merchandise being returned.

Freight Delivered Items: Shipping costs and surcharges will not be refunded and a 15 percent re-stocking fee will be assessed unless the return is made because the item is defective.

No Receipt? If you paid with a Kohl's Charge, any other major credit card or added Yes2You Rewards to the transaction, Khol's can look up the purchase and issue a refund. Otherwise, customers are given an even exchange or Merchandise Credit based on the lowest 13-week sale price. Gift cards can't be returned.

Online purchases may be returned to a store or by mail. Kohl's does not accept returns by mail for items purchased in a store. For more information visit Khols.com.

Returning Gifts: If you do not have the invoice or gift receipt, you’ll receive credit in the form of a "Happy Returns" Gift Card for the item's lowest selling price within the last 180 days.

Macy's 

Macy's policy changed in 2016. They now require all returns within one year of the purchase date, instead of allowing returns anytime. If you do not have a receipt you will probably receive a refund amount equal to the current selling price. Some exclusions apply. For more information visit Macys.com.

Marshalls

Marshalls' customers have until January 23, for purchases made between October 16 through December 24, 2016. A register receipt is required to receive a cash refund or charge credit. For more information visit MarshallsOnline.com.

Overstock.com

Purchases made on November 1—December 31 can be returned through January 31, whichever date is later). Overstock must receive your return at their warehouse within 15 days from when you first start to initiate the return. All items must be in their original condition to qualify for a full refund.

You may receive a partial refund if the returned item was opened, used, or returned late. Visit Overstock.com for more information.

Staples

Electronics and office furniture purchases made between November 22—December 24, can be returned through January 15, or 14 days from the purchase/order date. There is no deadline for returning office supplies. Purchase must be returned in salable condition with the original packaging, including Universal Product Code (UPC), manuals, parts and your receipt or packing slip. Orders purchased online or by phone may be returned at no charge. For more information visit Staples.com.

TJ Maxx

Purchases made October 16—December 24, may be returned through January 23. A receipt is required for an exchange or refund. Store credits will be issued for returns with receipts past the deadline. Gift receipts are valid for store credit or merchandise exchange only. 

Merchandise that is used or worn will not be accepted for refund or exchange. Returns of swimwear and intimate apparel require tickets properly attached to the merchandise. Jewelry returns must be made at the jewelry counter and must be made only at stores that carry jewelry. Other restrictions may apply. For more information visit  TJMaxx.com.

Target

For the most part, Target has a very liberal return policy. Target owned brand items may be returned within one year with a receipt for an exchange or refund. Many unopened items in new condition may be returned within 90 days for a refund or exchange.

Some exceptions apply including 30-day returns for electronics and entertainment items, however, the 30-day refund period begins on December 26 for purchases made between November 1—December 25. Drones must be returned within 14 days, but if purchased November 1—December 25, 14-day refund period begins on December 26.

REDcard holders get 30 days extra to return items. Visit Target.com for more information.

Toys-R-Us

Most items sold at Toys-R-Us qualifies for their 90-day return period. There are exceptions. Merchandise falling under the 30-day return policy includes cameras; camcorders; digital audio players; video game hardware; DVD players; no-contract cell phones, Drones, Segways, computer hardware (eReaders, netbooks, tablets), and virtual reality headsets. 

Items must be returned in new unused condition and in its original package for a refund or exchange. Shipping costs will not be refunded unless the item is being returned because it is damaged or defective. For more information visit ToysRUs.com.

Walmart Stores

Walmart has adjusted its return policy for the holiday gift buying season for items that have a limited return period (15 days, 30 days, etc.). For limited return items purchased November 1—December 24, the limited return period will begin December 26.

Items with a return window of 15 days are returnable through January 10. This includes Computers, tablets, E-readers portable video players, computer hardware, printers, 3D printing supplies, camcorders, digital cameras, GPS units, drones and digital music players.

Items with a return window of 30 days are returnable through January 25. This includes air conditioners, dehumidifiers, evaporative coolers, pressure washers and generators

Most all other items fall under the 90-day return policy and may be returned through March 26.

Items purchased at Walmart.com may be returned either to a store or by mail, although there are exclusions.

Cards are not returnable or refundable for cash except in states where required by law.

  • California: $10 or less, only if original balance was greater than $10
  • Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Puerto Rico: $5 or less
  • Texas: $2.50, only if the original value was greater than $5
  • Rhode Island and Vermont: $1

For more information, visit Walmart.com.

Keep Everything

Shoppers like extended holiday return policies. It makes it easier for customers to return unwanted gifts. But it's worth noting that the longer it take to return an item, then the easier it is to lose receipts, destroy original packaging or pour a cup of coffee on the instruction manual. A good way to avoid mishaps is by designating a low-traffic area of the home, like a closet in a spare room, to keep receipts and everything that came out the box, back inside of the box. 

Despite the "tough love" refunding trend in retail stores today, there are those that simplified and extended their return policies. Shopping at the stores with the best holiday return policies is can also help the refund blues.