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Holiday shopping continues as Central Coast residents return unwanted gifts

Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 26, 2018

Despite our best efforts to find the perfect gift for friends and family, the National Retail Foundation finds about 10 percent of Christmas presents are returned and that’s exactly what parking lots full of people in San Luis Obispo did Wednesday morning.

Mere hours after presents were unwrapped, the last gingerbread cookies were gobbled up and the final log burned on the fire, people went out to trade in duds for diamonds and televisions and game systems.

“It was painless, actually. We brought the shorts in, my son shopped for something he liked better,” said Anne Orlando of San Luis Obispo.

Orlando returned to the Nike outlet in Pismo Beach first thing Wednesday morning for a different size of shorts.

“We lucked out because there were no receipts, we didn’t have receipts with us and they tracked down the items with the barcodes on the tags,” Orlando said.

Retailers typically accept returns without a receipt but rarely for cash. Most stores offer merchandise credit unless the purchase can be looked up with a membership name, email or a credit card number.

Not all returns are fruit cakes or silly pj’s.

“I gave a gift of headphones to my mom and she’s returning them,”  said Dylan Downing. “They’re too noise canceling and she can’t hear anything when she wears them. She’s getting some lower quality ones.”

SLO resident Brian Esby is trading in tech for something tasty.

“A laptop. We don’t really need a new one and we got one,” Esby said. “We’re gonna return that thing and go spend it on food.”

And these folks aren’t alone; last year, two-thirds of consumers returned at least one item purchased during the holiday season, according to the National Retail Foundation.

Some of those returns were made with good intentions, but the NFR finds return fraud cost American retailers $3.4 billion last year.

The biggest form of fraudulent returns is people taking stolen items back to the retailer for store credit, according to the NFR.

Before you spend time in the return line, be sure to check the store’s return policy first to make certain you have everything you need for the transaction.