Which customers return the most purchases, and why?

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Which customers return the most purchases, and why?

By Dan Berthiaume - 02/24/2020

A new survey reveals a small percentage of shoppers are responsible for a large portion of returns.

According to a new survey of 2019 holiday shoppers from omnichannel solutions provider goTRG, people who reported returning five or more items during the 2019 season made up just 16.3% of all holiday shoppers, but accounted for 40.69% of all items returned.  

People who returned items during the 2019 holiday season on average returned 2.59 items. However, on average, younger consumers returned more items, with a spike among consumers older than 60:

•    People age 18-29 who returned items averaged 3.08 items during the 2019 holiday season;
•    People in the 30-44 age range who returned items averaged 2.63 during the 2019 holiday season;
•    In the 45-60 range, the average was 2.32 items;
•    In the over-60 range, the average was 2.64 items.

The age group most likely to return an item during the 2019 holiday season was consumers aged 30-44, with 70.45% of them returning at least one item. The age group least likely to return an item was consumers over 60, as only 55.71% of them returned at least one item.

Younger consumers were more likely to have returned multiple items. Consumers 44 and younger were 35% more likely to have returned two or more items than people 45 and older.

Beyond the holiday season, goTRG also examined another group of bulk returners known as “bracket shoppers.” These are consumers who deliberately order multiple items online with the intent of returning most of them (typically apparel items). goTRG’s survey data found that those shoppers are overwhelmingly younger. Overall, 32.3% of shoppers say they buy multiple items with the intent of returning most. But almost half of younger shoppers say they do this:

•    46.48% of shoppers age 18-29 say they buy multiple items with the intent of returning most
•    And one-third (31.8%) of those bracket returners said they do it more now than they did a year ago. 

Results also show retailers’ return experiences are generally staying the same or improving year-over-year:

•    25.46% of respondents say their in-store return experience was better this year.
•    13.38% say their in-store return experience was worse.
•    61.15% say their in-store return experience was about the same.
•    25% say online return experience was better this year.
•    9.26% say online return experience was worse.
•    65.74% say online return experience was about the same.

Other interesting findings include:

•    54.1% of respondents said the most common reason for returning items was size.
•    28.2% said they returned items they simply didn’t like or need.
•    8.3% said they returned items that were damaged or defective.
•    7.1% said they returned items because they already had something similar.
•    2.3% said they returned items because their order was filled incorrectly.