It's the holiday season .. and no doubt you'll receive some gifts that you simply don't want, or give some gifts it turns out the recipient can't use.

Many chains will relax their return policies for the 30 days following Christmas for those without receipts or start the clock on Dec. 26 for their windows to return items.

Some retailers will require IDs to deter or track scammers. Several also have the ability to look up purchases even without a receipt.

Most stores won't accept returns on gift cards, but New Jersey and federal laws do put certain consumer protections in place. A gift card or certificate can't expire within five years of its purchase. If less than $5 remains on a gift card, the card owner can ask for the remaining amount in cash.

Here are the policies at some of New Jersey's biggest retailers:

Amazon: Items shipped by between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 may be returned until Jan. 31 for a full refund. Other items can generally be returned within 30 days. There are special conditions for some items — such as baby items (which can be returned within 90 days), or computers (which may incur a restocking fee). Non-digital products purchased using Alexa are eligible for free returns using the normal returns center process.

Some special conditions may apply for digital products, or items purchased through third-party sellers.

Barnes & Noble: Barnes & Noble requires a receipt (or a gift receipt) for all returns. Items with gift receipts will get store credit or gift cards in return. Nook e-Books and apps can't be returned (though Nook devices can). Magazines can't be returned. There's typically a 14-day period on most returns, but items purchased during the holidays (from Nov. 1 through the end of the year) can be returned until Jan. 31. Items purchased through include specific instructions for processing returns.

Bed Bath & Beyond: Returns with receipts can be made at any store up to one year after purchase at any store. The chain will look up your purchases made within a year on purchase; you'll need to supply a credit/debit card number, gift card number, order number or checking account number. If the store's lookup can't locate your purchase it will issue a merchandise credit for the current selling price less 20 percent. Items purchased online must be packed up and shipped.

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Best Buy: Most products can be returned within 15 days (30 or 45, for My Best Buy Elite and Elite Plus members). The store has extended the return period to Jan. 14  for items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. Items (like cell phones) with carrier contracts or under AppleCare and Geek Squad protection have their own special conditions, as do wedding registry items (60 days) and marketplace items (varies).

Costco: Costco will refund most purchases at any time, but electronics can only be returned within 90 days of purchase. Diamonds 1 ct. or larger much include all original paperwork, and buyers receive jewelry credit memos. Cigarettes, alcohol and items with limited useful lives have special conditions.

CVS: Unopened items in new condition purchased from a retail location or the website may be returned within 60 days of purchase for exchange or refund. The store also says that having a photo ID will help the process go faster. Items that are opened or damaged, do not have a receipt or do not pass a third-party verification process may be denied a refund or exchanged. A return with a receipt gets a refund or a credit in the amount of the original purchase price; an item without a receipt can be exchanged for the same item or a credit.

JCPenney: Items purchased with a receipt are eligible for exchange or refund of the purchase price on the original method of payment. Items with a gift receipt are eligible for exchange or refund at the gift receipt price in the form of a gift card. Items without a receipt are eligible for exchange or refund at the item’s lowest selling price within the last 45 days issued in the form of a merchandise return voucher. There are special rules for furniture, jewelry, electronics, special occasion dresses and some other items.

Kohl's: Items may generally be returned within 180 days of purcahse, with the execption of premium electronics, which generally must be returned within 30 days. Premium electronics purchased from Nov. 1 through Christmas Day may be returned by Jan. 31 with original packaging and a valid receipt or account look-up. Store associates can look up Kohl's Charge purchases. Information from your ID will be stored to monitor return activity. Returns with a receipt get a refund or even exchange. Returns without receipts or successful look-ups get a Kohl's Merchandise Credit based on a discounted lowest 13-week sale price of the items.

Macy's: The retailer will accept returns within 90 days of purchase, with some exceptions. The following items have a temporary holiday return timeframe:
jewelry, watches, small electrics, social dresses, and Backstage merchandise purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned until Jan. 31. The return policy for Last Act merchandise will not be extended

Sam's Club: The store will refund members' purchases in full with a receipt, or a Sam's Club Shopping Card without a receipt. Most returns can be made at any time, but there are special rules for certain categories of items. Receipts are required for certain electronics, which may be subject to time limits of 90 or 30 days. Carrier-connected devices are returnable for 14 days and must include a receipt. Refrigerants must be returned within 7 days, with a receipt. Special rules for items purchased with the SNAP food stamp program apply. .

Sears: Generally, returns can be made within 30 days with a receipt, for a refund or exchange. Items purchased from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 of this year normally subject to the 30-day period can instead be returned as late as Jan. 31. The holiday return policy applies to all items, not just those with gift receipts. Christmas season items (such as trees and decorations) cannot be returned after Dec. 25. There are other special rules for furniture, cell phones, mattresses, personalized items and media.

Target: Most unopened items in new condition and returned within 90 days will receive a refund or exchange. Some items have a modified return policy that may be listed on the receipt, or on if purchased online. Returns of items without receipts may be limited, but the company will always accept returns of new and unused clothing for the same item in a different size or color. There are special restrictions on open media, airbeds, open collectibles, holiday-season items, electronics and others.

Electronics purchased between Nov. 1 and December must be returned within a 30 period that starts on Dec. 26. All Apple products, excluding mobile phones, must be returned within 15 days. For these items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, the 15-day refund period will start on Dec. 26.

Walmart: Policies vary by product department, but the chain will start the clock on purchases that normally have a 14 -to 30- day return window on Dec. 26. Items purchased at may be returned to either a store or mail in its original manufacturing packaging.

Books, movies, music, and video games must be returned with 90 days and unused, unopened and unmarked.

Most items purchased at may be returned either to a store or by mail, unless stated otherwise in the list of exceptions at the retailer's page. Items must be returned in the original manufacturer's packaging.

All policies stated in this report are subject to change.

Includes prior reporting by Dan Alexander and Louis C. Hochman


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