After Christmas returns: some early advice

After Christmas returns: some early advice

Dear tired consumer,

It’s been officially 27 days since Black Friday and the Christmas shopping madness/frenzy began. I recall my days in retail and why I made the decision to never enter that world again: post Christmas returns.

There are few days as miserable as December 26th in retail. Store owners and employees have put up with more shit leading up to it than you can imagine and one would hope the 24th would be it. But that is not the case. All the thoughtless, last minute just because you needed to give them something gifts are going to be returned on December 26th. And for the sales people and owners, this is a day of pure hell.

You see, they are tired. Much more tired than you are. They are the ones that have worked ridiculously long hours, including but not limited to, time on Thanksgiving to sell you your crap. They have given you their time, often much too much of it as you agonized over a $5 item and for 27 days and counting, put up with attitudes, store destruction that they had to stay and help clean and demanding, nasty customers. Yes, there are nice people that shop but the bad ones kill it. They suck our joy of service right out of us. They bleed us dry.

So, by the time December 25 comes, not one of them ever wants to see the inside of a store again. They spend Christmas Day with their sore, calloused feet probably sleeping and most definitely drinking to the retail hell being over for another year. But it’s not over just yet. So I am making a few suggestions.

I hope you all realize that the item you received that you are returning at 10AM on December 26th will be eligible for return on the 27th and for however long each particular store allows returns. If that tie you received is unwanted due to having 100 others, wear the 100 others for awhile. Return the tie on the 28th or get really crazy and wait til after the new year.

If that sweater is really ugly and you can’t imagine why anyone would buy it for you, keep it. Wear it to an ugly sweater party. Or donate it. And if it was given to you by someone that you were dating, break up. By your young child who picked it out? Wear it with pride.

Appliances are awesome for re gifting. If you receive an iron, a waffle maker or a crock pot that you don’t want or need, hang on to it. Next time you need a gift you don’t have to spend a dime. Just give that. It could quite possibly travel for years from person to person and never be used. Yet, you have saved a tired store clerk the trouble of looking up the new price now that it is most likely on that after Christmas sale table.

For those of you who are now going to just start shopping, these gifts will probably be the ones that get returned first so don’t even bother. You have waited so long you obviously don’t give a shit and your gift won’t be very well thought out. Or buy gift cards because those can’t be returned. They are actually more thoughtful because you are saying “I am a loser and didn’t get you anything but rather than get you something stupid, here’s a way for you to pick out your own gift”.

The store clerks don’t want to see you. When they see you with the dreaded bag that you obviously are walking IN and not OUT with, they want to run the other way. They want to cry. They don’t want to hear your tales of how your husband is a total ass because he never knows your size. Your boyfriend is a jerk because no matter how many times you hinted at an engagement ring he bought you gloves. Apparently saying you wanted something new for your hands just didn’t strike him the way you’d hoped.

Spread it out folks. Do your returns a little at a time. Remember that once an item leaves a store they hope to never see it again. And try, just try to remember that when you get a gift it’s the thought that counts. Whether or not it’s an afterthought is for you to decide.

Happy holidays.


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  • Very well put, Teppi - and a special thanks for pointing out the injustices to retailers during this season of (unfortunate) shopping and returns. My mother-in-law and I love to enjoy your clever and on point writing together, and I miss talking about it with her as we are spending this year's Christmas apart.

    I've said it before, however, and I'll say it again - we are SO glad to be away from the madness this Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we walked by a church with a simple "Christmas Star" lantern and a sign that said "Christ is what the season is about." Then, in keeping with the tradition in India, we bought a plum cake that we will share as a family for dessert after Christmas lunch.

    If we could harness all the energy that goes into the stress generated in the American people during the holiday season (from the day after Thanksgiving all the way to the New Year - Thanksgiving I personally love), we would solve many a power and fuel crisis!

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Thanks as always for your kind words, they encourage me to keep writing! Merry Christmas to you and enjoy your plum cake :)

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