Commentary

More Holiday Returns Than Expected

Nearly one-quarter of consumers will return or exchange at least one of the presents they received this holiday season. The three top reasons may surprise marketers.

Some 44% said they would return the item because they did not have a need for it, 34% said it was defective, and 9% said they would rather have a store credit, according to Retale. The findings, from the company’s second annual commissioned report on holiday returns and exchanges, polled more than 500 adults in the U.S.

The Retale study focused on returns and exchanges, including preferred venues -- in-store versus online -- overall convenience, and barriers to entry. Five hundred adult men and women across the U.S. were polled between December 28 and December 31, 2015.

Key findings from the study found 24% will or have returned or exchanged a gift. When asked whether they were pleased with the gifts they received, 72% said they were “very pleased,” with only 10% “displeased.”  

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Across the top five holiday gift categories, the most likely item to be returned or exchanged was jewelry, at 32%, followed by electronics with 29%; gift cards, 27%; clothes and apparel, 26%; and home decor and home improvement items, 23%.

Thirty-two percent of consumers polled said that keeping track of receipts remains the most difficult challenge, so those who shop at Nordstrom probably appreciate those little stickers on the merchandise instead. Shipping and handling followed at 30%; confusing return policies, 19%; and any required, additional costs -- 17%.

Some 60% of respondents to Retale’s survey received at least one piece of clothing as a gift, followed by gift cards at 51%, home decor and home improvement items, 27%; electronics, 25%, and jewelry, 24%.

In-store returns and exchanges at 64% are five times more preferred than online at 12%. Jewelry is the most likely holiday present to be returned or exchanged at 32%. About 75% of respondents called in-store returns and exchanges convenient, versus just 54% for online. Keeping track of receipts at 32% is the biggest return and exchange challenge. 

Survey respondents believe the most important aspect when reviewing a retailer’s return and exchange policy prior to making a purchase is a “full refund in the original form of payment” at 30%. It was followed by “return shipping is free or covered” at 26%; “no receipt necessary” at 19%; and “no time limit on exchanges or returns” at 16%.

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