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Hate returns? Kohl's feels your pain and is doing something about this ahead of the holiday season

·3 min read

Kohl's has a new approach to returning unwanted purchases ahead of the holiday season: Let shoppers do it themselves.

"Self returns" will allow you to bypass the dreaded return line in 200 stores across the country.

The retailer is also offering self-pickup at 100 stores in a separate test, which officials say will make picking up online orders less of a hassle.

Paul Gaffney, Kohl’s chief technology and supply chain officer, called returns "one of the most frustrating experiences in every retail store."

"You come in, scan your product, initiate the return, put it in a bag and drop it in the slot,” Gaffney told USA TODAY in an interview. “You don't have to wait in the line and you don't have to give anyone else control of the process.”

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The added convenience of easy pickups and returns could help Kohl's attract more shoppers in the competitive holiday season when retailers make the bulk of their revenue.

"It's literally one step on an app. You don't have to worry about fumbling with a locker or anything," Gaffney said of self-pickup. "The products are nicely set out on the shelf. You can literally get in and out in under a minute."

Kohl's, which has more than 1,100 stores in the United States, will continue to offer curbside pickup and has increased the number of parking spots. It added curbside in the early days of the pandemic when stores were closed.

Kohl's also will continue to accept Amazon returns and doesn't require shoppers to box up the unwanted items.

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Holiday shopping plans and supply chain woes

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects that holiday sales gains could shatter last year's record-breaking season even as a snarled global supply chain slows the flow of goods and results in higher prices for a broad range of items.

The trade group said Wednesday that it predicts that sales for the November and December period will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% to $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Holiday sales increased 8.2% in 2020 compared with the previous year when shoppers, locked down during the early part of the pandemic, splurged on pajamas and home goods, mostly online.

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Experts recommend that consumers start shopping for holiday gifts now ahead of Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Other retailers have started announcing holiday plans. Walmart said last week it will have three Black Friday sales like in 2020 that will start online and then continue in stores. Lowe's starts its Season of Savings sale Thursday and Macy's will start rolling out early Black Friday deals Nov. 3.

Target also has a new holiday price match guarantee while Amazon has its Epic Deals pre-Black Friday sale underway. Best Buy plans to start its Black Friday sale Nov. 19.

Kohl's stores will be closed on Thanksgiving 2021.
Kohl's stores will be closed on Thanksgiving 2021.

Kohl's Black Friday 2021

Kohl's has not yet unveiled its Black Friday plans but said stores would be closed on Thanksgiving like last year.

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Contributing: Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kohl's Black Friday 2021: New ways to return products, pickup orders

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