Survey: Returns have become a holiday tradition

A new survey indicates retailers must prepare for a deluge of post-Dec. 25 holiday activity.

According to a survey of almost 16,000 global consumers from Oracle Retail and Savanta, 77% of respondents plan to return a portion of their gifts this holiday season. More than 20% expect to return more than half their presents. While 32% of respondents plan to return gifts via mail, 65% intend to return them to the store.

Looking at holiday shopping habits, the survey indicates 75% of respondents will shop in-store and bring purchases home, compared to 55% who will shop online and ship purchases to their home. While Generation X (ages 35-54) led the way in shopping online and shipping to home at 57%, baby boomers (ages 55-plus) were a close second at 56%, and actually topped both millennials (ages 25-34) at 53% and Generation Z (ages 18-24) at 46% in embracing home delivery.

Generation Z and millennials also demonstrated more interest in picking up the gifts they ordered online in the store, with 25 and 30% respectively stating they will do so, while only 14% of baby boomers opted for this approach.

Among consumers who choose to ship online purchases rather than shop in-store, millennials are sending 33% of online holiday purchases to locations other than their home, with many instead shipping to work (18%) or to pick-up lockers (15%). Baby boomers, who were the second most-likely generation to ship to their homes, were by far the least likely (13%) to utilize an alternate location for online purchases.

“Retailers need to seize the moment when shoppers return gifts,” said Jeff Warren, VP of retail solutions management, Oracle Retail. “The traffic generated by holiday returns holds significant opportunity for retailers to build better customer profiles and generate new opportunities for engagement by personalizing the returns experience. Preparing for returns is a best practice, leveraging returns intelligence to inform product development and new customer acquisition strategies is next practice retail.”

The survey polled 15,800 global consumers in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Japan-Asia-Pacific regions.
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