Most national retail chains, department stores, and many online retailers offer at least a two-week extension (into mid-January) for holiday returns. Some stores extend the return deadlines even longer.
However, while the period to return merchandise has increased, many retailers have tightened their return policies. Some won't accept returns without a receipt. Others will only offer site or store credit. Tip: If you use a debit or credit card to pay, a lot of retailers simply need to re-swipe the card, and can refund your money right away.
Holiday Shopping and Return Windows
Stores with multiple product categories usually have several different return deadlines. For example, the average return policy is set between 30 and 60 days, but with a shorter return window on such items as electronics, cameras, computers and game consoles. Today, it is common to see apparel stores with no refund policies on evening and formal wear. Most maternity wear stores offer store credit only for returns (for obvious reasons).
Amazon Holiday Gift Returns
Amazon typically extends its normal 30-day return deadline during the holiday season. Under most circumstances, items shipped by Amazon between November 1 and December 31 may be returned until January 31 for a full refund, subject to regular return guidelines. Be sure to read those guidelines carefully; Amazon is a massive site that sells almost everything, and not all returns are handled the same. Examples:
- Amazon has many third-party sellers who sell goods on its platform. Some of these sellers have their own specific return policies, usually around who pays return shipping.
- Groceries, plants, and flowers cannot be returned but may be refundable. So if you get an expired or damaged grocery item, for instance, you can’t return it but you may be able to get a refund or credit.
- Gift cards are not returnable after purchase (except as required by law).
- Look for possible restocking fees for some computer items, especially if they’ve been damaged or tampered with. Some resellers may also charge restocking fees.
- Electronic downloads, such as games, can’t be returned. The exception: e-books purchased from Amazon’s Kindle Store. There’s a one-week return policy.
Amazon also has guidelines about how some returns should be shipped. Check the website for details.
Apple Holiday Returns Policy
Most items purchased online at the Apple Store between November 15 and December 25 may be returned through January 8. This is an extension of Apple's usual 14-day return policy. Some items are ineligible, including opened software, electronic software, downloads, software upgrades, Apple Store gift cards, Apple Developer products and Apple Print products.
Software can be returned as long as it has not been installed on any device. But any software with a printed license can't be returned if the seal on the package has been broken or tampered with. Be sure to include any cords, adapters or manuals that came with the item you're returning.
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. Personalized items and custom-configured Macs may not be eligible for exchange at an Apple Retail Store.
Holiday Returns at Best Buy
Most purchases made at Best Buy in November and December can be returned through January 14. If you purchased something other than a cell phone (or another device that needs activation) between October 29 and December 30, it also can be returned through January 14. Some restrictions apply, so check the website for specifics.
For members of Best Buy's Elite membership programs, there's an extended return window. These members can return most things purchased at Best Buy between October 29 and December 30 until February 13. The same restrictions apply for non-members.
Kohl's Holiday Returns
Kohl's overall policy allows in-store and online returns with no time limit, except for premium electronics, which must be returned in original packaging within 30 days.
The store extends this policy for the holiday season: Premium electronics purchased between November 1 and December 25 can be returned until January 31.
Macy's Holiday Returns
Most purchases from Macy's can be returned within 180 days. There are some exceptions, including Apple products, area rugs, furs, certain high-end brands, jewelry and small electronics. These items generally have to be returned within 14 to 30 days.
However, during the holiday season, the return window on most excepted items is extended. Purchases between November 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31.
Overstock.com Holiday Returns
Purchases made between November 1 and December 31 are covered under Overstock's holiday return policy. For a full refund, either start your return within 30 days of delivery or by January 31 (whichever date is later).
Overstock must receive your return at its warehouse within 15 days of the date when you initiate it. So if you start the return process on January 2, the company must receive it by January 17. All items must be in their original condition to qualify for a full refund. You may only receive a partial refund if the returned item was opened, used, or if it's returned past the deadline.
Staples Holiday Returns
Most purchases made at Staples between November 20 and December 25 can be returned through January 15, or within 14 days from the purchase or order date.
There is no deadline for returning office supplies. All items must be returned in good condition with the original packaging, including Universal Product Code (UPC), manuals, parts, and receipt or packing slip. Orders purchased online or by phone may be returned at no charge.
If you have your receipt or purchased with a debit or credit card, you'll receive a full refund. In other circumstances, you may receive a store credit. Some items have a shorter return window; during most of the year, Staples' return window is 30 days.
T.J. Maxx Holiday Returns
Most purchases made between October 15 and 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. Certain items such as swimwear and intimate apparel must have the tags still attached. All jewelry returns must be made to a T.J. Maxx store which sells jewelry.
Target Holiday Returns Policy
For the most part, Target has a very liberal return policy. If you have a receipt, Target-owned brand items may be returned within one year for an exchange or refund. Many other 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 and December 25. Drones must be returned within 14 days, but if purchased between November 1 and December 25, the 14-day refund period begins on December 26.
Target REDcard holders get 30 days extra to return items.
Walmart Holiday Returns
Walmart has varying rules for different items it sells. Some fall under a 15-day return window, other items can be returned within 30 days.
Items in the 15-day return window, including computers and computer accessories, digital cameras, GPS units, drones and digital music players, if purchased between November 1 and December 25, can be returned until January 18.
If your purchase is within the 30-day return window, you can bring it back for a refund until January 25. Examples include air conditioners and generators.
Most other items at Walmart fall under the usual 90-day return policy, meaning holiday purchases may be returned through March 26.