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HOLIDAY SHOPPING

What ever happened to free holiday gift wrapping?

Getting presents wrapped can be expensive, but Consumer Reports found merchants that will do it for free or on the cheap

Published: December 08, 2014 06:00 PM

Fewer stores offer free holiday gift wrapping.

How much time will you spend wrapping holiday gifts? Americans typically devote around three hours to boxing, wrapping, taping, and tagging, according to previous Consumer Reports' polls. You can eliminate some or all that time by getting the wrapping done for you, but most brick-and-mortar and online retailers now charge for the service.

“Wrapping has become a profit center during the holidays,” says retail expert Jack Abelson of Jack Abelson & Associates in Leawood, Kan. “It was a time-honored perk that used to be done for free, and was part of a combination of services we called value. But like so many other things, merchants have gotten away from it and are nickel-and-diming customers.” 

To get a handle on the latest trends, Consumer Reports reached out to brick-and-mortar stores—including Kohl's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, and Williams-Sonoma—and their online counterparts. (We selected the physical stores to call at random; so policies listed here might differ from the location where you shop.)

We also got in touch with retailers' media contacts, engaged customer-service reps, and participated in live chats to gather details.

The results: Most department and specialty stores offer gift wrapping for the holidays, but the service can be pricey. Charges ranged from $2 to $25, depending on the bells and whistles and package size.

Discounters such as Target and Walmart offer wrapping on select online purchases, also for a fee.

A few free gift wrappers are still out there, including Von Maur, a family-owned department-store chain known for outstanding customer service. This Midwest retailer offers year-round complimentary wrapping (and shipping).

Below you'll find  a rundown of the basics. Retailers are listed in alphabetical order.

Also check out our Facebook fans' gift-wrapping tips.

—Tod Marks

Our Holiday Gift Ideas page can help you find great deals on great presents for everyone on your list. Also, get the inside dope on outlet malls.

Retailer

Stores

Online

Amazon

Does not operate retail stores.

Wrapped box or gift bag, decorative ribbon and card available for most items fulfilled by Amazon. Price depends on the size and shape of item. The price was $3.49 for a bestseller picked out.

Barnes & Noble

Free year-round.

$3.99 per item.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Free, do-it-yourself wrapping station with paper, ribbons, and other supplies.

$2.99 per order and includes multiple boxes for multiple items, if necessary.

Best Buy

No

Free gift bag, but no wrap.

Dillard’s

Starts at $4 for a small box. Includes paper, ribbon, bow, and card.

$6 per box. No wrapping paper.

Jared. The Galleria of Jewelry

Free box, paper, ribbon, message card.

Free shipping on deliveries to home address.

JCPenney

Not available in Paramus, N.J. In Nyack, N.Y., store offered box or gift bag at $4.

Different prices for different items. Fee for a sweater was $4 and includes a box, silver paper, bow, and personalized gift tag. Wrapping is limited to items weighing less than 5 pounds.

Kohl’s

No

$5.95 per box. “We'll make sure your gift is ready for giving. Tucked inside a clean white box or wrapped in high-quality paper with a coordinating solid satin ribbon.”

Lands' End

No wrapping available at the standalone outlets -- called "Inlet" stores -- that we called.

$6 for a box with ribbon. No wrapping paper.

L.L.Bean

No wrapping available though the store offered us a box for free.

$6 for a box with a ribbon. No wrapping paper.

Lord & Taylor

"It’s offered, but it’s not free,” barked a representative at the chain’s flagship New York City store. Prices range from $6.98 to $25.

$6.95 for a gift box.

Macy’s

Boxes are free at the chain’s famous Herald Square New York store. But paper and decorations range from $5.95 to $15.95.

$6 for a box with a ribbon.

Nordstrom

Free wrapping in complimentary signature silver box with bow.

Three options: A Nordstrom gift box that includes tissue paper, bow and gift card with personalized message, $5; a gift box kit ($2) consisting of an easy-to-assemble gift box with tissue paper, a bow, and blank card; or free eight to 12 word gift message.

Sears

Not available at most stores.

$5 per box for eligible items, and includes paper, ribbon, and card.

Target

No

Gift-wrapping available at $5.99 for eligible items.

Von Maur

Free wrapping year-round. No minimum purchase.

Free wrapping year-round. No minimum purchase.

Walmart

No

$3.88, but complimentary for some items such as jewelry. “Items typically arrive in a classic blue gift box tied with a white ribbon.”

Williams-Sonoma

Free box, bow, and ribbon, “just don’t go crazy,” a rep joked.

$6 per box.

 

Photo: Trey Wright

More holiday gift ideas and tips

Visit our Holiday Gift Ideas page throughout the season to find the best deals, time-saving advice, and much more. And be sure to check out our Ultimate Gift Ideas inteactive video and our Gadget Gift Finder.


   

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