(WKBN) – Despite record-breaking inflation, holiday sales were up an estimated 7% this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting about 18% of post-holiday shoppers to be returning gifts. 

This will account for roughly $170 billion, according to News Nation.

If you are planning on returning some holiday gifts, there may be some things to keep in mind.

When to return gifts

The NRF says that 60% of shoppers began buying items by early November. With many businesses having return policies with a time limit, you may not want to wait to send it back. 

According to CBS Money Watch, about 60% of retailers are changing their return policies this year. Sometimes that may mean shortening the return window. 

Amazon has extended its holiday return time, stating on its website that, “most of the items purchased between October 11 and December 25, 2022, can be returned until January 31, 2023.”

Items purchased through third-party sellers, however, may differ.

How to return gifts without the sender knowing

If you are looking to return a gift without notifying the person who gave it to you, there are a few ways to do this. 

The old-fashioned way would be to take the item directly to the store and return it. However, you may need a receipt in order to get more than store credit back. 

If the gift was ordered online, you may still be able to pull it off.

If a gift was ordered on Amazon, you can look it up with the order ID number. Often, this is located on the packaging slip. Once you have that pulled up, opt for a refund on an Amazon gift card.

If you can’t find the order number, you can also find it on the digital gift receipt that was emailed. If you don’t have the packaging slip or digital gift receipt, you can use the tracking number. If you don’t have any of these, then you will have to get them from the person who ordered the item.

Some retailers allow items that were purchased online to be returned to the store. You’ll have to check their return policy to see if you will need a receipt or order number with the return.

JCPenney will allow an online order to be returned in-store without a receipt for a merchandise return voucher at the item’s lowest-selling price within the last 45 days.

Home Depot will take in-store returns for online purchases anywhere from 30-90 days, but some exclusions apply.

To find out the policy for other online retailers, check their return policy page on their websites.

What will it cost to return a gift?

Typically, when you think of returning gifts, you think of getting money back. But, sometimes it may cost you to return or exchange a gift.

When considering a return, read the fine print on the return policy, check for shipping fees and try to do it as soon as possible.

Some retailers are charging restocking fees. While some will require you to pay the fee to ship the item back. 

This is because of the costs that the retailer incurs when items are returned. In 2021, returns cost sellers $761 billion in lost sales, according to the NRF.

Often, items cannot be sold at full price once returned. 

One way to try to avoid a fee would be to physically return an item to the store instead of sending it back. Amazon now allows you to return gifts to Kohl’s for free. You just take the item with the QR code on your smartphone and Kohl’s will pack, label, and ship the items free of charge.

Walmart is offering curbside returns, and if you are a Walmart+ customer, you can get your returns picked up from your home.

Dealnews has provided the return policies for many large retailers, with times and fees. You can view that here.