By CLAIRE PEDERSEN and LAUREN EFFRON
While the thought of returning to the mall may be unbearable right now, retail experts say this is a great time to take advantage of post-holiday sales and store return policies.
"It's understandable that people may be 'shopped out' after the holidays, but what people don't realize is that the best sales happen after the holidays," retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar told "Nightline."
And instead of letting that ugly Christmas sweater from your aunt or those weird exercise DVDs from your brother collect dust in your closet, Prabhakar said it's a good idea to return them for something you really want.
"Unreturned gifts post-holiday is like a mini gold mine in your home," Prabhakar said. "People could have $50 to $250 worth of merchandise just sitting there because they don't want act to return that merchandise."
Prabhakar offered her advice on how to get the most bang for your buck when returning unwanted items.
1. Get Organized
Prabhakar said going through your stuff and setting aside what you want to return can be helpful.
"If you don't know what's in your home or apartment, you don't know what everything is worth," she said.
2. Do Your Online Research
It's a good idea explore several places where you can sell or return unwanted holiday gifts, Prabhakar said.
"See what other income sources you can get from that merchandise," she said.
3. Check the Store's Return Policy
If you're going to go to a store to return an unwanted gift, make sure you know the company's policy because each store is different. Prabhakar said some stores are lenient if you don't have a receipt and will still give you credit for the purchase.
"They can either give you a gift card or cash back," Prabhakar said. "You get a gift card and you hold on it, it may benefit you because you can take advantage of the sales that happen post-holiday, where markdowns are up to 70 percent off."
4. Sell Unwanted Gift Cards Online
If you have gift cards you don't want or need, there are websites where you can sell them for cash.
"One is to go on Ebay to go ahead and exchange that gift card or sell that gift card," Prabhakar said. "You might not get face value, but you will get some money back and pretty much the equivalent."
There are other sites that trade gift cards, she added."You wouldn't be able to get the cash value of it, but if you have a $50 card, you might be able to get $46 when you account for processing fees."