CHICAGO (CBS) — Stores call it “refurbished” or “refreshed” merchandise. It may have been returned or used as a display model, or perhaps the box was opened.

As CBS 2’s Susan Carlson reports, shoppers can save a lot of money on the items.

For instance: Among a group of flat-screen TVs, everything was exactly the same, except for one thing. One cost $30 less, but had the same return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.

The cheaper set was refreshed, meaning it was repackaged and put back on the store’s shelf.

“Returned, refurbished, re-manufactured, open boxed (are) all kind of the same thing, so they’ve been owned typically by someone for a short time,” explains Lance Ulanoff with PC Magazine.

Ulanoff says used does not necessarily mean abused. Just about every major retailer and manufacturer now sells refreshed or refurbished products that may have some damaged packaging or have been used as floor models. But they function the same as their brand-new counterparts.

“Savings can be really significant, anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars depending on what you get,” Ulanoff said.

Take a look on sites like refurb-depot.com. Among the items: a refurbished Cuisinart Coffee Maker for just $42.99 over its normal price of $100. A Sony Ebook that sells for about $300 normally was listed at just $98.99.

Best Buy has what they call an open box program. A product that has been opened for any reason — or discontinued by the manufacturer — is sold for at least 10 percent less.

“It’s checked out by a squad agent, its functional, has no scratches or dents, we put it back and see if we can sell it,” Bryan Ledgister said.

But, despite the savings, some shoppers are a little skeptical of giving a refreshed gift for the holidays

“I wouldn’t do that as a gift,” Joe Vergolina said.

But Ulanoff says if you shop with a reputable retailer there is no risk involved.

Experts say don’t buy a refurbished item on final sale because you want to be able to return it should something go wrong.