There are plenty of reasons to buy shoes at your local running store instead of online or at a big box store, including a more knowledgeable staff and the fact that you’re supporting your local running community. But another biggie is the fact that many will take returns even after you’ve gone for a few runs in your shoes.
In case you don’t have a local store with this policy, it’s good to know that some larger brands and online stores will also take returns of lightly-worn shoes. Do not feel bad about taking advantage of this policy. The whole idea is that you can trust your body to tell you whether the shoes are working, rather than stressing in the store (or at home as you’re unboxing) about whether you think these shoes will work for you.
Nike will let you return shoes, even if they’ve been worn, within 60 days of purchase:
Whether you shop on Nike.com, in any of the Nike apps, or at a Nike store, we give you 60 days to take your Nike and Converse purchases for a trial run, confidently knowing you can return items (some exceptions apply) for any reason within those 60 days. That includes custom Nike By You sneakers. Even after 60 days, you can still return items if they’re unworn and unwashed.
Brooks will accept returns within 90 days, yes, even if you’ve run in the shoes:
Brooks offers the Run Happy Promise – a promise that you’ll love your gear, and if you don’t we will take it back for 90 days after purchase. Run in it, sweat in it, inside, outside, in the rain – if it doesn’t perform the way it should, send it back.
Unworn items can be returned for one full year from the date of purchase.
Fleet Feet, a chain of running stores that also has an online store, has a 60-day return policy that does not require the shoes to be unworn:
If an item you purchased at a Fleet Feet store or on fleetfeet.com doesn’t make you happy by the way it performs, looks or fits, you can return it within 60 days* for a full refund. That’s our Happy Fit Guarantee.
With brands or stores not listed here, you may still be able to return them, but runners’ experiences seem to be mixed. For example, Adidas’s return policy doesn’t specifically say that you can return shoes after you’ve run in them, but at least one Redditor says they were told by Adidas customer support that it would be OK to return shoes they have run in. (Please note that policies can change, and that they often vary by country.) If you’ve bought shoes, run in them, and weren’t happy, it can’t hurt to ask.