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Study: Holiday shoppers have return preferences


Retailers seeking to make the holiday return process as pleasant as possible need to offer a few specific features.

According to a new post-holiday study of 500 adult U.S. consumers from location-based mobile platform provider Retale, 24% of those surveyed stated that they are likely to return or exchange at least one of the presents that they received this holiday season.

Among all survey participants, the overwhelming majority (64%) prefer to return or exchange gifts in-store, while only 12% prefer to do so online. Another 24% of those surveyed had no specific venue preference.

This year’s numbers were slightly more favorable for online when compared to Retale’s holiday returns and exchanges survey from 2015, when 70% preferred in-store compared to 9% online and 21% had no preference. Still, in-store returns and exchanges were more than five times more preferred than online due to perceived convenience.

When asked to rate convenience for both in-store and online returns and exchanges, in-store was the clear frontrunner, with 75% rating the experience as convenient and 25% inconvenient. The online return and exchange experience was viewed less favorably, with 54% calling it convenient compared to 45% inconvenient.

When asked to identify the biggest challenges in returning or exchanging gifts received this holiday season, regardless of venue, the top-four were: “keeping track of any receipts” (32%); “shipping and handling” (30%); “confusing return policies” (19%); and “any required, additional costs” (17%).

Among survey respondents, 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” (30%). It was followed by “return shipping is free or covered” (26%); “no receipt necessary” (19%); “no time limit on exchanges or returns” (16%); “no tags or original packaging necessary” (6%); and “returns can be done via mail” (4%).

The most likely item to be returned or exchanged was jewelry, with 32%. It was followed by electronics (29%); gift cards (27%); clothes and apparel (26%); and home décor and home improvement items (23%).

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