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Retailers ready for returns
Merchants brace for gift cards, exchanges
Retail WEB 1
Local retailers such as Old Navy, above, are expecting the rest of the week to be busy with returns and gift card purchases. - photo by Autumn Vetter

South Forsyth at Lambert

By: Jim Dean

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While some people may still be trying to recover from all their Christmas shopping, retailers are ready for the flood of holiday gift returns this week.

The National Retail Federation is predicting this year’s holiday sales will surpass those in 2011 by more than 4 percent.

And all those nicely wrapped presents under the tree Tuesday likely will lead to plenty of returns today and beyond.

Kelly Freese, manager of Belk in Lakeland Plaza, and Antwon Bloxson, merchandising manager of Old Navy on Market Place Boulevard, said returns represent most of the store’s business the days after the 25th.

“That’s the No. 1 driver for the day after Christmas,” Freese said.

Added Bloxson: “I know we schedule the right amount of people for it, things like that.”

Both managers said the main factor for those wishing to return an item is to have receipts.

“All I can say is if they can just try to hold on to those receipts or have gift receipts,” Freese said.

Bloxson noted that his store will accept returned merchandise without a receipt, but what customers can get will be limited.

With a receipt, customers can get an exchange or cash refund, but without one they can get only in-store credit.

“[Our return policy] can be a little confusing for the customers,” he said. “But we try to let them know when they buy gifts to send it with a gift receipt to their families or whoever so it will be an easy transition.”

As for items customers like to switch out their unwanted gifts for, Freese said many choose jeans.

“The biggest thing everybody comes in for the day after Christmas is denim,” she said. “That’s the No. 1 item so a lot of people come in and do their exchanges and whatnot for that. And we do a lot of denim promotions and give away gift cards with denim purchases and things like that.”

As for customer frustration with post-holiday lines, Freese said it’s important to remember to keep tags on items.

“That’s really important because that’s what can hold up the whole process and can take a while,” she said. “Especially with so many retailers who can carry the same product … it’s important for us to be able to tell it’s ours.”

The National Retail Federation recommends checking each individual store’s return policies before heading out.

Most have their policies displayed inside as well as on their Web sites.