'Getting some deals ... returning things': Metro-east shoppers, retailers busy after Christmas

News-DemocratDecember 26, 2013 

— Patty Fletcher wasn't worried about receipts when she took back a few Christmas gifts on Thursday.

"I have no receipts with me," Fletcher said. "I left them at home. They are in envelopes."

On Thursday, she traveled about 70 miles from her home in Raymond, in Montgomery County, to return and exchange a few items at JCPenney at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights.

"They have great customer service," she said about the store. "So I feel like they will make the effort to make that work."

Typically, the day after Christmas is a time for returning or exchanging gifts from the day before. Alan Wilson, the manager of the JCPenney store in Fairview Heights, said any retailer will usually accept any returns at this time of year, with or without a receipt.

"Every retailer is very accommodating at this point, without a doubt," Wilson said.

At Macy's, also located in the mall, customers who do not have a receipt can still get a refund if they bring the credit or debit card or gift card they used to purchase the item and if the price tags are still attached.

"Macy's has a terrific return policy," said Andrea Schwartz, Macy's vice president of media relations and cause marketing. "As long as you have your receipt or a gift receipt, we will refund what you spent. If you don't have a receipt but bring it back with the card you used, we will be able to put the refund back on the card up to 365 days. All we need is that the tags are on the garment."

Return and exchange policies are determined on a store-by-store basis and are offered as a courtesy to consumers. According to the Better Business Bureau, retailers do not have to accept any returns and exchanges. Chris Thetford, vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, each store also determines how much time they give customers to return something.

"Store retailers have the obligation to let consumers know that all sales are final and there are no returns or refunds," Thetford said. "Consumers have the responsibility and need to understand that stores are offering refunds or exchanges as a way of taking care of the customer, not because they're obligated to do that, but because if merchandise is defective or misrepresented."

Thursday was also the beginning of more sales as stores discounted merchandise that wasn't bought before Christmas.

"We're doing both," Fletcher said. "We're getting some deals and we're also returning things that didn't fit."

Wilson said the day after Christmas also is a big shopping day.

"It's a very, very busy day for shopping more than anything," he said. "You would think there would be big returns, but we sell more than returns. There are a lot of gift cards used. A lot of people are out with gift cards."

Macy's spokeswoman Lauren Rapisand said the retailer also uses these days after the holiday to unveil new products.

"So if they bring something back, they will find something that they do like," Rapisand said from Macy's office in Chicago. "Not only will they see merchandise from the holidays, but also new merchandise you have not seen before."

Kerry Mart, of Channahon located in Northern Illinois, was shopping at the mall Thursday with Freeburg resident Nancy Bunn. The two had been through Macy's, JCPenney and Dillard's and said the crowd was not too overwhelming.

"It was not too bad," Bunn said. "I thought it would be wall to wall."

"I was just shopping for a New Year's dress," Mart said. "I was looking for something specific. It wasn't any after-holiday-type of sale."

Collinsville resident Nick Morietta was also shopping at JCPenney Thursday afternoon and said his experience was not too hectic.

"It's actually not as busy as I thought it was going to be," Morietta said. "The parking lot seems full, but the stores don't seem that full."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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