The Gift Exchange: Avoiding the Chaos

Shoppers looking for post-holiday bargains are headed back to the stores on the day after Christmas. Retailers are hoping shoppers return so they can meet their sales goals. Many are offering deep discounts to lure shoppers back in hopes of recouping lost sales. Analysts say this season is winding up to be only modestly better than a year ago. The chairman of American's Research Group says post-holiday sales will only help stores that are close to meeting their goals.

Lines also formed at the return desks. But if you didn't get a chance to go through the chaos, don't panic. There are tools to relieve the stresses of the gift exchange process.

Before making your trip to the return desk, know what you can return and what you can't.

"Anything can basically be returned that's new and unused, unless its defective then we can return it. Video games or any type of electronics has to be unopened to be exchanged, otherwise you have to get the exact same thing," said Target Guest Services Representative Amanda Reed.

Some consumers think food items can't be returned, but that is not the case as long as the food is unopened. And even if you don't have a receipt, some stores allow items like clothes to be returned or exchanged.

"If they have their receipt, they're obviously going to get their money back. If they have the tags on them and they don't have the receipt, and they didn't pay for it, they can exchange it for more clothes but they are going to get the sale price. If it doesn't have the tags they have to bring me the exact same thing. They can still exchange, it but it's just a little more difficult," added Reed.

But Amanda says the most important thing to remember when you go through the chaos of returning a gift is be patient.

"That's a big one, be patient. There's only so much that i can do. I'm doing what I can. I'm not making up the rules as I go," explained Reed.

Many consumer experts suggest that you make your gift returns early in the day. That way you can beat the crowds and get to the store employees before they become stressed.