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Report: 1 in 3 gift recipients returned at least one item

Shoppers fill the halls of the Roosevelt Field

Shoppers fill the halls of the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City for returns and after-Christmas sales, Dec. 26, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Shoppers will flock to stores on Monday to return unwanted gifts and stay to spend holiday gift card money and look for bargains, experts say.

In recent years, retailers have reported growing numbers of consumers shopping on the day after Christmas. The day known by some as “Returns Day” now mirrors the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday at stores and malls.

“Shopping the day after Christmas this year will be bigger than ever,” Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research company, said Thursday.

“And it’s because of two reasons. One: People are going to go out and exchange the gifts they got for the stuff they really want. And two: They’re going to go out and use their gift cards.”

One out of three gift recipients returned at least one item last holiday season, according to the Retail Equation, a California-based consumer analytics and return fraud prevention company.

The highest rate of returns nationwide occurred on Dec. 26, when returns were more than two times the normal rate seen during the holiday season. And the peak time for returns that day was 12:15 p.m., the same time as on Dec. 26, 2014, the Retail Equation reported.

Stores hope to convert gift returners into shoppers, and consumers can expect “deeper discounts” and “even better sales” after the holidays, said Cohen.

“Christmas lands on a Sunday, but most people will still have Monday off and will use the day to go out and shop,” he said.

Tips for successful returns

  • Check the retailer’s policy to see if your product is eligible for return. Many retailers exclude certain categories, such as clearance products, opened software and video games (usually eligible only for exchange), and gift cards.
  • Having a gift receipt doesn’t ensure a monetary refund. Many retailers only offer store credit to gift recipients.
  • Make sure you have what’s required — usually your receipt or gift receipt and all of the parts and packaging in good condition.
  • Check the retailer’s return deadline. Monday is predicted to be the second-busiest shopping day of 2016, so avoid it if you don’t like crowds.
  • For returns by mail, you may have to pay a return shipping fee. Many stores allow consumers to return gifts bought online at a physical store location. Make sure you have the receipt and ID.

— NerdWallet

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