On My Way

I Put Target’s Viral Return Policy To The Test With My Kid’s Clothes, & I’m Floored

Do you really have a whole year to return used clothes? Here's the scoop!

Originally Published: 
If you do any shopping at Target, you should be aware of their one-year return policy on their exclu...
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Before you became a parent, no one warned you just how much money you'd spend on kids' clothes. Your little dirt magnets’ shirts, shoes, and pants are all so tiny. Why does it seem like you spend a freakin' fortune on them? Well, Target feels your pain. In fact, they've developed a return program to help you save a little money on clothes for your rugrats each year — a generous return policy that lets you exchange clothes up to one year after purchase. I first heard about it on TikTok, confirmed it on the Target website, and then did what every mama in their right mind might do: checked it out for myself. Wanna save about $100 a year on your kids' clothes? Keep a very vague paper trail (digital works, too!) and shop at Target.

If you're a regular Target kids shopper, you already know that the majority of Target's kid clothes come from the brand Cat & Jack. All those adorable shirts, leggings, and pants on that first table? It's always Cat & Jack. Parents and kids alike eat up the line for its bold colors, positive messages, and cute designs. And, until recently, when my kid was done with those clothes, I donated them or took them to kid-centric consignment stores like Once Upon A Child.

But guess what? You've got another option. And it's a good one.

What is Target’s return policy for Cat & Jack items?

According to a recent video from TikToker @luvthemama, Target allows you to bring back Cat & Jack brand clothing up to one year after purchase if you can reasonably prove your purchase (via receipt, your Target card, etc.). So, I put on my sleuthing cap, and this is what I found out.

Target does offer a one-year return policy from the date of purchase on Cat & Jack clothing, no matter the condition. Even better? The policy actually appears to cover all of the retailer's 32 owned and exclusive brands. A 2015 press release explained the extended policy, adding that guests also get a one-year return guarantee on Target's baby, college, or wedding Gift Registry. This was an adjustment from their previous 90-day window.

"At Target, we're putting our guests first and are committed to offering a shopping experience that's inspiring and rooted in ease," said Kathee Tesija, Target's chief merchandising and supply chain officer. "Our enhanced return policy offers our guests convenience we think they'll appreciate, while providing additional assurance of the quality of owned and exclusive brands found only at Target."

It seems like an urban legend, but it's the real deal. On Target’s website today, it states, “If you’re not satisfied with any Target Owned Brand item, return it within one year with a receipt for an exchange or refund.” How can Target swing this? The idea is that they are standing by the quality of their owned and exclusive brands. They want parents to know that, when you buy a Target line, you're buying something that lasts. And if it doesn't hold up? Bring it on back.

How does the return policy look in action?

I took Target's Cat & Jack return policy for a test drive, and it was surprisingly simple. Let's say you're going through your kid's closet and realize some of their Target clothes haven't held up — the knees are worn, or something has a rip in the sleeve. Thanks to Target's one-year satisfaction guarantee for its exclusive brands, you can return these broken, worn, or damaged items.

Just gather them up, take them to customer service, and pull up your Target Circle barcode. A customer service employee will scan your barcode, then type in the item number for each piece of clothing. As long as each item number is matched to your account or receipt, you'll receive a full refund plus tax.

You can either have it returned to your card, take the cash (only available for items you paid cash or debit for), or have a store merch credit. Since you're at Target anyway, you're probably going to spend some money, so a merch credit is always nice.

What other Target brands have the same policy?

Per the press release, the following Target exclusives fall under the extended returns umbrella:

  • Archer Farms
  • AVA & VIV
  • Boots & Barkley
  • C9 Champion
  • Chefmate
  • Cherokee
  • Circo
  • Durabuilt
  • Embark
  • Fieldcrest
  • Gilligan & O'Malley
  • Kid Made Modern
  • Liz Lange
  • Merona
  • Mossimo
  • Mossimo Supply Co.
  • Nate Berkus
  • ProSpirit
  • Pure Energy
  • Room Essentials
  • Shaun White
  • Simply Balanced
  • Smith & Hawken
  • Sonia Kashuk
  • Spritz
  • Sutton & Dodge
  • Threshold
  • up & up
  • Wine Cube
  • Xhilaration
  • Yoobi

What should you know before you go?

If returns give you anxiety, you’re not alone. Seriously, though, it’s easier than you think. Target put this policy into place to make life more convenient for parents! Still, here are a few helpful tips to (hopefully) put your mind at ease.

A Receipt Is Suggested But Not Always Necessary

If you use the Target app and are a Target Circle member, all your purchases are automatically logged and attached to your account. As a matter of fact, when I tried it out, it actually made things easier. I used the app to scroll through my past purchases back to about a year ago and used those receipts and images to help find the returnable clothes in my kid’s closet.

If you don’t have a receipt, Target has a $100 yearly limit on returns without a receipt. That means once you hit $100 in receiptless returns per year on clothes or anything else, no more returns without a receipt. If have proof of purchase, though, even digitally, there’s no return limit.

Yes, You Can Return a Target.com Purchase to a Target Store

According to Target’s website, it doesn’t matter whether you purchased an item in store or online. “Items purchased on Target.com may be returned to any Target store using the receipt, the barcode found in the Target app, Target delivery or shipping confirmation email, or the original form of payment.”

In fact, some items that are purchased online cannot be returned through Target’s online return center and must be returned in store. If that’s the case, it will be indicated in the shipping and returns section of that product’s details page.

Don’t Cut Those Sewn-In Tags

While almost all of Cat & Jack’s neck and waistline tags are printed onto the clothing, you'll find a smaller, silky tag if you search hard enough — usually at the bottom of a shirt or in a pant leg. Those tags carry the item numbers that a Target customer service member will need to type in to verify your purchase.

Have a kiddo who is very sensitive to any and all tags? Keep the cardboard tag in an envelope until you’re ready to return. As a favor to the team member helping you, though, consider going through and matching tags to clothes before you bring in your returns.

Keep Other Guests In Mind

Be mindful of the people helping you. If you have a decent haul you're bringing back on a super-busy day, maybe do your shopping first and wait until the line dies down. If the Target team member has to enter in 20-ish item numbers, it's really going to slow things down. That may not be a big deal for you since you're about to get a bunch of money back! But the six people waiting behind you to do returns may not be as pumped... and your poor team member shouldn't have to deal with any Target Karens today or any day.

Also, arguably most importantly, don't be that person. You know the one. The "this is why we can't have nice things" person. Target does not technically allow you to use this refund to replace items that: your kid has outgrown, they've just decided they no longer like, or were damaged by no fault of the clothing brands (like, your kid doodled a picture of Bluey on it in permanent marker). Using the return policy for any of those reasons would be a loophole. And if Target feels like too many people are using these sorts of loopholes, it could easily revert the policy right back to the 90-day returns of yore.

Editor’s Note: Scary Mommy reached out to Target for comment but, at the time of this article being published, did not receive a response.

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