Retailers: Returns, exchanges ordinary for season

The Master’s book-store owner Tammy Garner, right, helps Tammy Jacobs of Melrose exchange a Bible on Monday at the book store in Clovis. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Stores were bogged down Monday with returns and exchanges of gifts gone awry, as anticipated by those in the retail industry. The practice of swapping sizes and styles and returning merchandise in the days following Christmas, many sales associates and consumers said, has become an appendage to the holiday itself.

“Returns and exchanges go along with holiday,” said Clovis resident Pat Sullivan, who was exchanging the oversized blazer her son had purchased for a smaller size. “The lines will be a little longer; the stores a little more crowded. That’s to be expected.”

In the next few days, more than half of the business done at Bealls and other stores in the North Plains Mall will be returns and exchanges, said Bealls Assistant Manager Alice Padilla. Exchanges, Padilla said, are more common than returns, since many times gifts of apparel are too small or too big.

Though Bealls and many other stores have computerized records of their merchandise, returns and exchanges are quicker and easier if customers have a receipt and item tags are intact, sales associates said.

When giving a gift, include a gift receipt, which does not list the item’s price, or simply mark out the item’s price instead of ripping off the tag, suggested Dillard’s sales associate Johnny Rivera.

Clovis resident Ann Sharp said she learned long ago to follow Rivera’s suggestions. The mother of three keeps all her receipts and doesn’t rip off tags. Sitting on a bench at the North Plains Mall on Monday, Sharp watched as her daughter laced up a pair of gray sneakers she had exchanged for the pair her mother purchased for her.

Sharp predicted about three hours of her day would be spent at the mall, where her children, year after year, exchange Christmas presents for something else.

“Children are picky,” Sharp said. “Kids these days have an idea in mind of what they want, and they won’t accept anything else.”

“You are better off just buying a gift card,” the exhausted mother said.

But when Christmas rolls around next year, she said, she won’t opt out with gift cards. She said she will choose items for her children once again, expecting a day of returns and exchanges.

That, after all, is the Sharp family tradition.