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Gift return tips, like why you should return electronics first, from RetailMeNot

Christmas is over, and you've probably got a small pile of gifts that you're planning on returning.

RetailMeNot's Sara Skirboll stopped by TODAY Saturday to share the best practices on returning those unwanted gifts.

The retail and shopping trends expert pointed out that 33 percent of people return unwanted gifts, and that the most commonly returned items are clothing and fragrances.

Here's what to bear in mind before you pack up your trunk with returnable goods to save on stress — and money — this post-holiday season.

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1. Do it early or wait until the New Year

You may want to get the whole shebang over with, but unless you can be in-store before noon, go before noon when stores are less crowded, or wait until after January 1 to avoid the after Christmas sales rush, said Skirboll.

2. Return electronics first

Electronics and other pricey items should take precedence among the items you're returning. Skirboll said that retailers tend to put additional return requirements in place with these big ticket goods. Generally you'll have less time to return them, so be sure and be on top of that.

3. Restocking fees may apply; selling online may be better

Another thing to note with these big ticket items/electronics is that often retailers charge a restocking fee that's deducted from the refund or store credit amount. Sometimes it pays off to avoid a store return altogether and list the item on eBay or Craigslist, where you can sell it for the full price, or maybe even more if it's in demand.

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4. Print the return policy and take your ID

Every retailer has its own return policy — some more complicated than others. Skirboll recommends printing out the policy for each store you're returning to and bringing the printouts with you to avoid any confusion at the register. Don't forget to bring you ID, which may be asked of you to ensure there's no fraudulence going on.

5. Don't open the box

If you're so much as considering returning something, Skirboll urges you to not open the box or packaging. With clothing items, keep all the tags on. An opened item or one missing a tag could be turned down for a return or full-exchange.

6. Top retailers when it comes to returns

Just as some stores are more complicated in their return policies than others; some are easier to work with. Skirboll points to Nordstrom in particular as being "fantastic with returns," and known work with customers to ensure 100 percent satisfaction. Zappos, Athleta, and Bed Bath & Beyond are also great stores in Skirboll's book, as they will take back items without your having to provide a receipt. Plus, you can beat the lines altogether by using their free shipping returns label.

7. You can return or exchange gift cards

91 percent of people have received a gift card at least once as a holiday present, Skirboll noted, and while gift cards are pretty flexible, they're not always on your wish list. You can return or exchange gift cards, too, on sites like www.cardpool.com or www.raise.com.

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