Retail chain Walmart Inc. has announced an extension of its holiday return window as well as new policies aimed at making the return experience “easier and more convenient” for customers.
Those who buy products from Walmart stores on or after Oct. 1 can return the items through Jan. 31, 2023, per the new “Holiday Guarantee” policy, the company said in a Sept. 22 news release. The return window is one month longer than in previous years, Tom Ward, Walmart’s U.S. executive vice president, told Axios. In addition, Walmart is also introducing curbside returns, allowing customers to return items from their vehicles.
Walmart+ members in select stores will get the option of having their returns picked up by the company from their doorstep. Members do not have to provide a label or a box while returning items.
The Holiday Guarantee policy is available to all Walmart customers beginning Oct. 1. Curbside returns and home returns will launch only at a few stores in the first week of October and will later be expanded to other stores.
“Saving our customers time and money is in our DNA, and I am proud of how we’ve innovated to offer exactly what our customers need this holiday—deeper savings across a broader assortment of gifts with a seamless omnichannel shopping experience,” Ward said in the news release.
Inflation-Affected Holiday Season
Inflation is expected to have a dampening effect on holiday spending. Consulting firm Bain & Co. is forecasting holiday season sales to grow by 7.5 percent this year compared to 2021, according to CNBC. However, after adjusting for inflation, the growth is only expected to be 1 percent to 3 percent, below the 10-year average.
A poll commissioned by CNBC shows that 80 percent of consumers expect their holiday-spending budgets to be affected by inflation. In addition, 52 percent of respondents also felt it would be harder for them to afford their holiday expenses in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, some experts are expecting companies to go all out with their discounts. “This holiday retail season is bound to be far more promotional than the last,” Steve Sadove, senior adviser at Mastercard, told Reuters.
Big retailers like Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. stocked up on extra goods due to shortages in 2021. As such, they are left with a glut of inventory, and the retailers might choose to offload the excess stocks through steep discounts.