With Christmas and New Years behind us, many are trekking back out to the malls to cash in their least favorite presents for store credit or even cold hard cash. Many stores have implemented a special holiday return policy to help these customers out. The stores are flooded with people and many are using their returns to purchase more products. Some of these items are on holiday clearance, however many are new releases for 2018. What follows are some tips to keep in mind in order to beat the traffic and avoid waiting in extremely Long Lines. Remember, all those sales from the holidays are now coming back as these products are returned.

When and where should I return to first?

First, there is always the question of when to return. Take a look at Amazon.com which states, “ The Amazon extended holiday return policy requires that orders shipped between November 1 and December 31 be returnable through January 31 of the following year.” Many other stores are following suit and honoring returns up until January 31, 2018. All those last-minute gifts that just didn’t work out will now be able to be sent back to Amazon. So, when should everyone return? If you are doing it online, via Amazon or similar companies (shopping networks), there is really no rush. Just know that returns will have to be shipped out, so any day, Monday through Friday, will be a good day to go to the post office.

As for times? In the morning will probably be the best time, with the shortest lines.

However, if the gift that you are trying to return is purchased at a department store (Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom), or even Walmart, you may want to be careful what day you go. The weekend is an automatic no. This is when most people have a day off of work and will use this time to wander the various stores in the mall.

To avoid all the crowds, make sure you go during a weekday. Another great time to go is after work, around 7-8 PM the malls will be pretty quiet and make it easy to get done what you need to. Check your local mall hours and then just subtract one or two, in order to give you enough time to get what you came for, but not too close to closing time.

Shop holiday clearance or wait till a new sale?

The short answer is, it depends on what you are looking for. If you have come across some additional store credit from your returns, it really depends on what store you are at. Department stores are now giving huge reductions on winter jackets and holiday decorations. If you are looking for a coat for next year, now is a great time to get it. These are true especially with the deals that are for winter next year. If you are looking for spring and summer attire, now is not a great time. Since things will start to heat up, all the attire for the season will be at a premium. Be careful not to get tricked since many of these stores use flashy signs and discount percents to boost after holiday sales.

In order to not get tricked, compare stores and see what is truly a “good deal.”

If you do have a store credit and are looking to hold onto the credit, check with the store on what the details behind it are. Sometimes these holiday store credits must be spent in a couple months, however, you may get lucky and be allowed to put it on a store gift card for a later season/ year, or even have a gift to regive. The best case scenario is getting your return onto a gift card, however, if you are unable to receive one, consider buying things for winter which will slowly become discounted. These coats, gloves, and scarfs will all become even more heavily discounted as the early 2018 months go on until they have virtually no stock left in the store.

Regardless, keep your eye out for these deals as the weeks go on.

Overall, the holidays brought in a strong boost in sales for many companies. However, with many people changing their minds, getting multiples of the same gift, and just wanting to return their gifts for something else, these companies are receiving tremendously long lines of people looking to return their holiday items. Using some of these tips and thinking ahead for next winter one can score some pretty good deals by trading in some of their least favorite items they received for Christmas. Regardless, be careful out at the mall due to the long lines, and slippery conditions that are currently present along the coast. Waiting untill closer the end of the month may be many people’s best options. Happy shopping!