Retailers Brace for Shopping in Reverse

Stores ready for rash of returns

Amid the crush of last-minute Christmas shoppers, retailers are quietly gearing up for the reverse -- when people line up to return unwanted gifts after the holiday.

Return policies vary widely from store to store, and customers should familiarize themselves with the rules, retailers say.

Best Buy, for example, has extended its normal 30-day return policy for Christmas.

"Anything purchased after November 1st, through the holidays, they can return until January 31st, with the exception of any computer," said Evan Curtis, of the Best Buy near Interstate 20 and Hulen Street in Fort Worth.

Computers, including laptops, have to be returned within 14 days, he said.

Few stores beat JCPenney's policy, which allows customers 90 days to make returns.

"I think JCPenney has one of the most generous and most fair policies in the retail industry right now,” said Laurie Adams, manager of the store at Ridgmar Mall.

There is one exception: Furniture must be returned within seven days.

The day after Christmas is typically the busiest for returns. Best Buy plans to add staff that day to speed up the process, Curtis said.

Having a receipt will make most returns a lot easier, but many stores do not require them. If an item was bought with a credit card, the purchase can be reviewed electronically.

"Within reason, we're here for our customers,” said Curtis.

Even without any record of the purchase, some stores will still issue in-store credits, but not cash refunds.

The retailers trade group said nearly 90 percent of customers believe stores’ return policies are fair but also noted 17 percent of stores have toughened their rules on making returns.

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