SHOP WITH CONFIDENCE
Holiday shopping can be stressful when it's unclear what to get someone who's difficult to buy for. What if that sweater doesn't fit him or she already has that game? Some stores have a special extended return periods for purchases made during the holidays to combat gift givers' concerns. However, most of the retailers featured here have such generous policies year-round that they don't need to make exceptions. Some don't even require a receipt for returns. Refunds are generally issued in the form of original payment. With a gift receipt, most stores offer an exchange or store credit. Many stores also track customers' history of making returns, and could deny a return if they suspect a shopper is taking advantage of their generosity.
Related: 10 Stores With Strict Return Policies
A longtime favorite for shoppers who want to make a purchase without worry, Nordstrom handles all returns on a case-by-case basis and is often accommodating. A receipt isn't necessary, although it can help store employees quickly find a purchase in the system, and there's no time limit for returns. Nordstrom reserves the right to refuse returns and doesn't accept returns of special-occasion dresses if the tag is removed or the dress looks worn. (Other stores under the Nordstrom corporate umbrella, including Nordstrom Rack, HauteLook, and Trunk Club, have their own return policies.) And if the item was purchased online, no worries. Nordstrom offers free returns.
L.L. Bean stands by its products with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and offers to treat customers fairly if the customers agree to do the same. In practice, this means there's no time limit for returns. However, L.L. Bean doesn't accept returns for items that aren't purchased directly from the company; items that are soiled, defaced, or missing a label; or items that were damaged during a natural disaster.
Related: 25 Well-Made Products You'll Never Have to Buy Again
Costco offers a no-time-limit return policy for most of the products it sells. There are a few exceptions, such as a 90-day return period for select electronics. Special rules may also apply to cigarettes, alcohol, diamonds, items with a limited life span (such as batteries), and special-order products.
BATH & BODY WORKS
Shoppers can return merchandise to Bath & Body Works at any time if they aren't completely satisfied. Without a receipt or invoice, the return must be made in exchange for a different product or store credit.
Items from Bloomingdale's typically can be returned within 365 days of the purchase. A receipt isn't required. Without one, however, Bloomingdale's issues an account or store credit. Unless the buyer has a receipt or Bloomingdale's card, the value of the return is equal to the lowest selling price within the past 180 days. There are also special rules for particular items, such as dresses, which are returnable only if unworn with tags still attached.
Staples' return policy varies depending on the product. Office supplies and printer ink or toner can be returned at any time for a full refund, while electronics and furniture typically have a 14-day return period. The 14-day window, however, doesn't apply to purchases made Nov. 20 to Dec. 25. Those can be returned until Jan. 15. If the store can't find a transaction and the customer doesn't have a receipt, Staples offers store credit worth the item's lowest selling price during the previous 30 days.
BED BATH & BEYOND
Bed Bath & Beyond's generous return policy has a few exceptions, such as monogrammed items and opened breast pumps, but otherwise returns can be made at any time with an original receipt or packing slip. Even without a receipt, shoppers can make a return within 365 days of the purchase. A full refund is offered if the purchase can be identified within the system, using the order, gift, debit, or credit card number used for the purchase. Otherwise, shoppers may receive an exchange or credit worth the item's current selling price, less 20 percent.
REI customers can make a return and request a refund or replacement within a year, and there's no time limit for items that have a manufacturing defect. However, ordinary wear and tear and improper use aren't part of REI's 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. A receipt or the buyer's REI membership number can provide the proof of purchase that's needed for returns. Gift recipients can receive a refund for unwanted or defective items as long as they have proof of purchase.
There's often no time limit on returns to JCPenney with an original or gift receipt. Products can also be exchanged without a receipt, or shoppers can make a return and receive store credit equal to the item's lowest selling price during the previous 45 days. There are a few exceptions to the no-time-limit rule, including a 30-day return policy for appliances and furniture and a 60-day limit for fine jewelry and electronics. Some products, including body jewelry, can't be returned, and a restocking fee applies for some heavy or bulky items.
Zappos offers free returns on all products within 365 days of the purchase. However, shoes must be unworn and in the original packaging to qualify.
Macy's return policy says the store will accept a return within 365 days as long as the item "is in saleable condition." A return is possible without a receipt, but shoppers receive store credit worth the item's lowest selling price during the previous 180 days. Restrictions apply to certain items and brands, such as mattresses and Louis Vuitton products.
Aside from a 30-day return period for select electronics, Kohl's purchases can be returned at any time for a refund, exchange, or store credit. Kohl's holiday policy extends the electronics return period to Jan. 31 for purchases made Nov. 1 to Dec. 25. Returns are accepted without a receipt if the store can connect the transaction to the purchaser's credit or debit card or Yes2You Rewards account number.
TOYS R US
New, unused items can be returned to Toys R Us within 90 days of the purchase with a receipt or gift receipt. However, a shorter 30-day policy applies to select products, including video game hardware, drones, some electronics, and cameras.