After-Christmas returns, shopping begins

NEW BOSTON, Ohio — Most people think of the day after Christmas as being the largest day for returning those unwanted gifts, but it’s not. It is really one of the biggest shopping days of the year — even bigger than Black Friday or Christmas Eve.

At the New Boston Walmart, manager Bill Mason says he is ready for both returns and those wanting to take advantage of after-Christmas sales.

“Most returns are done before Christmas even gets here now,” Mason said on Saturday. “We haven’t had the big crowds for returns, like it was years ago, but instead we have more shoppers looking for sales.”

Thousands of Americans were expected to shop and make returns the day after Christmas, according to Retail Equation.

Returns and exchanges have been increasing. Last year, in 2014, $284 billion worth of merchandise was returned in the U.S. according to the Retail Equation. That’s up 6.2 percent from $267 billion in 2013.

John Rowan was returning a vaccum cleaner he said was not the one his wife was wanting.

“I got the wrong one,” he said with a smile. “I am returning it and will try to see if I can find the right one on sale.”

American consumers return hundreds of billions of dollars of merchandise to stores each year, and a good chunk of that returning happens the day after Christmas. And with Dec. 26 falling on a Saturday this year, retailers and shopping centers were expecting a busy day with returns, exchanges and new purchases.

“The customer is returning and also purchasing,” Mason said. “And they’re purchasing more than the return.”

Based on its annual return policy survey, reports that while some stores are tweaking their return rules to add new restrictions or offer new benefits, most retailers’ return policies have remained about the same as last year.

“Everyone already knows our return policies here at Walmart,” Mason said.

Without a receipt, Walmart gives customers the option of a cash refund (if the purchase was under $25), a gift card for the amount of the purchase (if it was over $25), or an even exchange. Shoppers can only make three no receipt returns within a 45 day period. Walmart tracks returns in a database and may deny a return that exceeds the store’s limits.

Continuing last year’s new trend, 49 percent of online retailers surveyed now offer “free returns” where the store pays the return shipping for unwanted items in many categories, according to the National Retail Federation.

“It just made sense to do the shopping after Christmas,” Rowan said.


• Don’t fight the crowds on the return lines the day after Christmas; grab some of the advertised bargains instead. Go back a day or two later. To improve your chances of getting full credit, provide a sales slip or gift receipt, return the item in new condition, unopened, and with all packaging material. Returns without a receipt are subject to the posted return policy, which might result in your receiving only a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for recently, or possibly no refund or exchange at all.

• If the item to be returned is defective, some states such as Massachusetts, require the store to give the consumer his/her choice of one of the three “R’s”: repair, replacement or refund, irrespective of the store’s posted return policy.

• Consumers who have a problem returning a gift, should first contact the store manager or customer service department of the retailer. If a satisfactory resolution is not obtained, then a complaint can be filed with the state Attorney General’s office or local consumer agency.

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Photo/Fred Pace
Several customers came to the New Boston Walmart to return Christmas gifts, but also many of them came to shop for large after-Christmas sales Pace
Several customers came to the New Boston Walmart to return Christmas gifts, but also many of them came to shop for large after-Christmas sales

By Fred Pace

[email protected]

Reach Fred Pace at 304-353-3101, ext. 1927 or follow on Twitter @fcpace62.