VANCOUVER -- This is a bittersweet time of the year for a lot of students. They’re graduating but their planned celebrations have been cancelled. That’s got some parents who shelled out hundreds of dollars on grad outfits looking for refunds.

In December, Parm Bains paid half up front for a $560 prom dress that her 17-year-old daughter Rena no longer has a use for.

“I’m sad and disappointed because it’s something that I’ve looked forward to for so long,” Rena told CTV News Vancouver. “I mean it’s a pretty dress, but I don’t need it.”

Bains wants her money back.

“It’s going to be just sitting in her closet and it will be a reminder that she’ll look at that she didn’t get her graduation like her brother did,” she said.

But the receipt is clear: Deposits are non-refundable. And Lisa’s Bridal Salon in New Westminster wants Bains to pick up the dress and make the final payment.

“I guess I was thinking that (would change) because this is just a unique situation that we’re in,” Bains said.

Celia Knol, whose family owns the shop, says it's struggling just like everyone else.

“We ordered them and paid for them in good faith,” Knol said. “A year ago when we were buying the dresses for the store for prom 2020, who knew that we would be here today?”

The shop has overhead costs, and a bunch of the dresses that were ordered still haven’t been picked up. Customers aren't responding to messages to come in and get them.

“It’s concerning at this point,” said Knol.

Chantal Richardson decided to go ahead with the purchase for her daughter Marissa.

“Once you put the deposit down - you know,” said Richardson. “I thought, I’m going to buy it and give her the time of her life if I can.”

And Marissa still wanted it.

“I just want to make sure I have it ready in case anything happens,” she said.

Lisa’s Bridal Salon says it’s still working with customers to help out as best it can, depending on their situation.

In Bains' case, the retailer said it offered to take back a $100 belt, an accessory for the prom dress, but Bains was hoping for more.

“What are we supposed to be doing with these dresses that can’t be worn?” she asked.

Many parents are making alternate arrangements, like organizing outdoor parties in small groups where their kids can dress up while still distancing.

Other students have been taking part in virtual online celebrations.

If you have a graduation outfit and are looking for a refund, check the return policy. There could be some wiggle room depending on the retailers or you could try selling the outfit online, or even on consignment.  

Check out more of CTV News Vancouver's Class of 2020 series online, and all week on CTV Morning Live and CTV News at Six.