UNITED STATES—Well it seems 2020 is finally coming to an end America. I will admit that 2020 has been one of the longest years ever, I don’t know if it’s a direct result of the pandemic or a host of other things (I think it’s the pandemic people). With that said, the holiday I love and the holiday I hate, Christmas has finally passed. I am ecstatic because all those gifts stored in my closet have finally reached their destination and I can actually see my closet and it can breathe.

However, with Christmas you sometimes receive gifts that you don’t necessarily love or perhaps it’s not your personal style. With that said, you have to prepare for the task of returning items to retailers. Here is the thing about 2020 it has changed the way we shop and it probably will be different for the rest of our lives. Why? The retailers are NOT allowing a horde of people into the establishment. Let me rephrase that: they are doing something they should have done a long time ago.

The limitation of crowds inside retailers is a very smart thing, but also exhausting at the same time for consumers. The pro is the fact that you can enter a retailer and shop with a bit of peace and not have a ton of people hovering all over your shoulder. With that said the big con is having to wait in line to get into the store and then waiting in another line when you check out at that retailer. There is nothing fun about waiting in a line America and I am speaking from personal experience.

This past weekend, after working most of the day on Christmas Eve I had a last minute gift that I needed to purchase and I found myself waiting in pretty long lines. I’m a patient person, but the older I get the more my patience seems to be tested. It is Xmas Eve, so I expected crowds, but the same sentiment was echoed the day after Xmas where I had to return a few items. I knew the malls might have some lines, but the lines were extremely long.

My frustration was not so much waiting in the line, but the fact that people were not respecting personal boundaries. We are still in a pandemic and I don’t want you so close that I can smell your breathe people. C’mon back the hell up. With that said, many of the retailers did not have a system in place. You had one line simply for purchases and returns. It would have been smarter to have a line for purchases only and then another line for returns as it would expedite the wait time if you ask me.

On top of that, I’ve come to a major realization that if you truly think about it, it is better to hit the retailers as SOON as their doors open in most cases. Going to the mall or a retailer midday or after they have been open for several hours around Christmas or post-Christmas is never a smart idea people. You are going to wait in line and if you’re someone who is NOT patient, you’re going to want to tear your hair out.

Do you need to make a plan, not really, but you need to be attentive to the fact that timing matters when you are making a return. Never do it mid-afternoon or late in the day. On top of the procedure of having your receipt, you need to be fully aware of the retailers return policy. Someone give you 30 days, some 60 days, some 90 days, some 180 days and wait for it some retailers give you 1 year. However, with that said, there are some that don’t allow returns on clearance items or final sale items or electronics where the return policy is even shorter.

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting in line and you find out you can’t return the item or you can’t get your money back and you have to settle for store credit. Frustrating to say the least America, but retailers have to survive too and in 2020 they have been tested more now than ever before. Pack your patience, be smart and no what to expect when you head out to make those returns people.