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Some retailers are adding fees to return items

Dragonfly Dry Goods
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-27 13:17:20-05

GREAT FALLS — Christmas is over, which means return season has begun. As people head back out to stores and log back onto retail websites to return and exchange gifts, they may find that some retailers are not as lenient as they once were.

“We always [have returns], there’s always gonna be,” said Alison Fried, owner of Dragonfly Dry Goods in downtown Great Falls. “I mean, we sell shoes and clothes, and so things don’t fit quite right and they want to try it on.”

At Dragonfly, returns and exchanges are an expected part of the holidays. Dragonfly even changes their policy during the holidays to accommodate their customers, helping to lower shoppers’ stress as much as they can.

“We try to just take care of them and make sure it’s all good,” Fried said.

On a nationwide scale, Dragonfly’s leniency is unique. In 2022, the National Retail Federation found that $816 billion in lost sales are due to returns in the United States.

To combat this deficit, some retailers have begun charging a return fee. The website and app “Retailmenot” named more than a dozen big name stores, including J. Crew and Zara, that charge a fee for refunds.

While this will affect many online returns, the fee is unlikely to extend to small businesses here in town. Small businesses want to focus on positive relationships with the customers, face to face.

“I think that they’re gonna look at how they can make their customer happy and make them a return customer in the future,” said Kellie Pierce, director of the Downtown Great Falls Association and Business Improvement District. “So really providing that local service of, ‘How can we make this right, how can we do better, what can we do for you in the future?’ is more of the mentality rather than trying to charge fees for things.”

Small and local businesses want to work alongside their customers and other local businesses to support the community as a whole.

“There’s a lot of collaboration and really great business owners that are wanting to help each other out,” Pierce said.

Regardless of where you shopped, it’s always worth looking into the company’s return policy to make sure you are not losing any extra money this holiday season.