Retailers Change Return Policies for Holidays

2015 Holiday Return Policies

The first few days following Christmas are the busiest time of year for returns. This year, before you make a trip to the store, take a look at some changes popular retailers made to their return policies. Consumer World compared store return policies from last year. Although most remained about the same some big retailers made some significant changes.

Free Return Shipping

Of the retailers surveyed, 49% now offer free return shipping. Stores now offering free return shipping include Macy’s, Target, Saks, Gap, Bloomingdale’s, Old Navy, Amazon (certain “fashion” items only), and PayPal.

Holiday Return Policies

To accommodate holiday shoppers many retailers are extending return deadlines. Consumer World created a list of popular stores with modified Christmas policies. January 31 for most items shipped 11/01 thru 12/31. No refunds on downloads.
Best Buy January 15 for most purchases Nov. 1 – Dec. 31. Elite members get more time.
Costco No deadline, but 90 days: TVs, computers, cameras, MP3 players, cellphones, projectors.
Kohl’s No deadline.
Macy’s stores No deadline, but some furniture (3 days), some mattresses (60). Receipt or return label gets price paid. 15% restocking fees on some items.
Marshalls January 23 for purchases Oct. 18 – Dec. 24. This retailer posts clear in-store signs about their extended holiday return policy. January 31 for most items purchased Nov. 1 or later. Fees apply if opened, used, or late.
Sears January 24 deadline for most 30 day items except major appliances purchased Nov. 8 on; Report certain damaged goods within 72 hours or no refund; Even exchange only on some open items; 15% restocking fee on electronics missing parts; furniture, etc.
Staples No deadline for office supplies. January 16 for electronics & furniture bought since Nov. 22.
TJ Maxx January 23 for purchases Oct. 18 – Dec. 24. This retailer posts clear in-store signs about their extended holiday return policy.
Target 90 days most items, except 30 days for electronics and entertainment items, but 30 days begins 12/26 for purchases since 11/1. May deny refund for opened items or those without a receipt. REDcard holders get 30 extra return days.
Toys”R”Us Secret policy: most items bought from September 1 onward can be returned until January 23, except November 1 onward for video game hardware, cameras, music players, etc. Netbooks, eReaders, etc. bought November 1 onward can be returned until January 9.
Walmart stores 90 days most items. For purchases made from November 1 on, 15 days (PCs, cameras, GPS, more), 30 days (garden, compressors, more) but count days starting December 26.


Aside from extending return deadlines, many retailers tightened up their return policies. Return fraud cost retailers $9.1 billion in 2015. To prevent return fraud retailers added restrictions to their policies. Consumer World provided a list of notable changes.

  • Sears dropped their category specific return policy. Their 30/60/90 day return deadline has been changed to 30 days for most items.
  • The legendary Costco return policy was surprisingly changed this past year. Members now have 90 days to return electronics but can return almost anything else whenever.
  • Target extended their exchange and refund policy to one year for Target branded products.
  • Without a receipt Walmart will issue a cash refund for items under $25, a gift card for items over $25 or an exchange. Walmart restricts no-receipt returns to three within a 45 day period.

Tips for Returning Items After Christmas

If at all possible, wait a week or two to return any items. Droves of people will head out to stores the day after Christmas. Save yourself some stress by waiting until the crowds die down.

Check the store’s return policy online before heading out. Stores have restrictions on what can be returned and when. Walmart and Target don’t allow video games or movies to be returned if they have been opened. Not all store return policies are created equal so save yourself a headache by checking it online.

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