Steps to take to finish your holiday shopping

December 20, 2011 2:05:27 PM PST
It's down the wire when it comes to holiday shopping. By now, the more you wait the more likely you are to settle for a gift that may ultimately be returned.

To make it easier on your gift recipients, there are some steps to take and questions to ask as you try to finish your list.

First, check the store return policies. This is especially important if you are shopping online.

See if you can return an item purchased online at the nearest store instead of having to box it up and ship it out.

Next, look for restocking fees.

Many retailers have a restocking fee, usually 15 percent of the product's cost ? these fees apply mostly to electronics.

Check the returns windows. Many big-box stores and other merchants have regular return policies of about 60 to 90 days, but these periods are usually shorter for electronics, software, CDs and DVDs.

Always know what can and can't be returned. Opened software - including video games, CDs and movies, usually are not returnable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, get a gift receipt. Most retailers will at least offer store credit to anyone with a gift receipt.