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Keeping track of different stores’ return policies can feel a bit like playing whac-a-mole — especially when it comes to holiday shopping returns.

This year, many companies are already expanding their return policies just as they did in 2020, and I think more of that generosity will stick throughout the 2021-22 holiday season. Store return windows will likely be longer again and they’ll come up with creative options for how returns can be done — but strict exceptions, like to electronics and Apple products, will hold.

Here’s what you need to know about 2021 holiday shopping returns.

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1. Tons of stores have a special extended holiday shopping return policy.

The holiday return policy sign at the front entrance.

Some stores have yet to announce their exact return policy extensions for the 2021-22 holiday season, but I included their 2020-21 holiday return window because it’s almost certain the time frames will either stay the same or expand (not shrink).

Here’s a list of stores that extend their return windows around the holiday season:

  • Amazon holiday return policy 2021: Amazon will allow for returns until Jan. 31 on purchases made between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.
  • Apple holiday return policy 2021: Apple will allow for returns until Jan. 8 on online purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 in 2020.
  • Best Buy holiday return policy 2021: Best Buy will allow for returns until Jan. 16 for purchases made between Oct. 18 and Jan. 2.
  • Nordstrom return policy has no return limit: You can return something anytime, though whether or not it’s accepted is up to associate discretion. If you don’t have a receipt, they’ll ask for ID and you’ll get store credit.
  • Target holiday return policy 2021: Target maintains its regular 90-day return window throughout the holidays (Target RedCard holders get an extra 30 days on top of that), but loosens its electronics policy — normally 30 days and just 15 days for Apple products — so that the countdown doesn’t start until December 26. This applies to items purchased between Oct. 1 and Dec. 25.
  • Walmart holiday return policy 2021: Walmart has extended its return window for this holiday shopping season; anything you buy in store (even electronics) or online (as long as it’s not a third-party seller) from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25 could be returned within 90 days starting on Dec. 26.
  • Wayfair holiday return policy 2021: Purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 have until Jan. 31 to be returned for a full refund.

 

RELATED: Retailers That Let You Return Used Items for a Full Refund

 

2. Don’t be surprised if there’s a delay in getting your refund.

2021 calendar circled on 14 with check mail for return refund check

If you’re returning something by mail, be prepared for both delayed return shipping and refund. This might just be the new normal 🤷🏼‍♀️.

Read more about all the shortages and delays happening in 2021:

 

3. But do download a delivery monitoring app like Paribus to protect yourself from delayed online orders.

A person holding an iphone with the Paribus app next to an Amazon box.

Paribus can help get you compensated if your shipment arrives late!

Here’s how it works: Paribus tracks your shipments (via guaranteed delivery dates in your inbox) from stores like Amazon and will send you a message that says “Action Required: Paribus detected a Late Delivery!” if something appears to be askew. They will even send a pre-filled form to Amazon’s customer service.

The best part? They offer this service and charge you nothing!

Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.

 

4. Which companies do free return shipping by mail? These ones.

An Amazon and Walmart delivery box sitting on a front doorstep.

Here’s a list of retailers who do prepaid shipping labels for holiday shopping returns by mail:

 

 

5. Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW, and Nordstrom do curbside returns and hopefully other stores will, too.

Dicks sporting goods store front with curbside pickup sign

Dick’s Sporting Goods — I love them for this — does curbside returns. Simply park in one of their designated curbside parking spots, call the store, and a manager will come out and help you.

To make a curbside return at Nordstrom, start your return online and follow the prompts for returning curbside at any Nordstrom location.

Best Buy did curbside returns in most states during the COVID-19 lockdown, so while no one at my local store seemed certain whether or not this would continue during and after the holidays, I have high hopes.

 

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