It’s the season of giving but also the season for returning those unwanted gifts and continued shopping well into the New Year.
According to the National Retail Federation, 68 percent of holiday shoppers say they plan on hitting the stores after Christmas to shop post-holiday sales and spend gift cards but more than half also said they’ll be in-store returning or exchanging holiday gifts.
Understanding the increased need for merchandise returns after the holidays some retailers do make their return policies more lenient during the holiday season while others have changed their policies to account for an increase in fraudulent returns, according to the organization’s website.
Last Year, Katie Jordan, the federation’s manager for Research and Industry Insights, wrote in a blog that retailers expected 11 percent of holiday purchases to be returned after Christmas annually and an average 8 percent of those returns to be fraudulent.
“One of the risks retailers face during the holiday returns season is processing returns without a receipt — three-quarters of holiday shoppers opt out of including a receipt with their gifts,” she said. “NRF’s data shows 21 percent of returns made without a receipt are fraudulent.”
And, the numbers are even higher when it comes to “buy online, return in-store” transactions.
To maintain customer satisfaction while also keeping up with increased shopper volumes, Jordan said retailers often rely on employees bypassing computer systems to make quick decisions about which return transactions they’ll honor which ultimately opens the store up for higher risks.
While retailers like Costco and Kohl’s will take most merchandise back without a receipt and within any time after purchase, others like Forever 21 and Game Stop require the original or gift receipt with returns within 30 days.
“Every store has their own return policy so shoppers should check with the individual retailer,” Mikia Ross, marketing director for Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News, wrote in an email. “However as a general rule, if the tags are still attached the retailer should be able to accommodate them.”
In the following days after Christmas, Ross said she expects the mall to be busy with longer lines and many shoppers excited to spend their gift cards.
One the most commonly returned or exchanged item is apparel since shoppers may choose the wrong size or style for the person they are shopping for, she added.
Ross said the mall’s goal is to have the right amount of staff to accommodate the influx of shoppers and provide a positive experience.
“We expect to have longer lines but our retailers are ready to accommodate them with ease,” Ross said. “It’s been a good holiday shopping season and expect it to continue.”
Consumer Reports provided tips for those intending to return a gift this holiday season
- Don’t open the box
- Keep the gift receipt
- Check return policies and note any time limits
- Bring Identification