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Many Happy Returns of the Day

Amidst the wrapping and ribbons, are there a few gifts that, now opened, deserve to be returned?

A reported $46 billion in returned merchandise is expected to wind up back on retailers shelves after the holidays this year, NBC News reported last week. 

With tighter return policies in effect at some stores and consumers' need to stretch their own budgets, this year's gift return queues could be longer and slower than ever.

Retail industry experts caution consumers not to procrastinate in making their returns and to take heed of stores' policies. Come armed with your receipts,  packaging and patience.

In the spirit of the season, no matter what gift-giving holiday you celebrate, Patch provides you below with a short list of some of the major retailers' return policies, culled from their websites.

Policies can change, so you should still check back at the store websites right before you return your merchandise. The list below is meant to provide you with a snapshot of policies listed on their sites now. And, of course, there is no substitute for asking questions, in person, at the store's return counter.

Depending on the store, retail managers may have some discretion in how returns are handled, so it never hurts to go up the chain of command if you think your return is not being handled according to their written policy or if there are extenuating circumstances not covered by the policy.

Still unable to return an item? Well, you can always "regift" it next year. (Tip: Attach a tag to it with the name of the person from whom you received it this year so you don't forget when next year rolls around and embarrass yourself by giving it back to them.)

Nobody on your gift list who's the right fit for it? Local charities will be happy to accept it from you. In the end, the feeling you will get donating to someone in need may be the best gift you will receive this year.

Apple Store

Apple Store (online purchases)

Banana Republic (online purchases)

Barnes & Noble

Bed Bath & Beyond  

Best Buy

Costco

Footlocker 

JC Penney

KMart

Kohl's

Macy's

Marshall's

Men's Warehouse 

Michael's 

Nordstrom

Nordstrom's Rack 

Petsmart 

Ross

Sears

Target 

The Gap

TJ Maxx 

Toys R Us (Babies R Us)

Walmart

Williams-Sonoma

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