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Half of U.S. Shoppers Say Returning Gifts Turns Holiday Fest into New Year Stress
Feb 06, 2015

Four Out of Ten Americans Admit to Re-Gifting Just to Avoid the Retail Return Process

60 % of Shoppers Would Abandon Retailer Due to Unhappy Return Experience

Getting your credit card bill is not the only stress for shoppers early in the new year.  According the latest LoyaltyOne research, one out of every two U.S. consumers (50.9%) report gift return added to their post-holiday stress, and nearly four out of ten American shoppers (39%) say they have re-gifted a present just to avoid the hassle of the retail return process.

The results of a nationwide survey issued by LoyaltyOne conducted at the height of the post-holiday shopping season suggest the gift return experience is both a high-risk, high-reward retail touch point.

High-risk: 60.6% of consumers say they would stop shopping at a retailer after a poor gift return experience.

High-reward: nearly eight out of ten Americans (79.3%) say a positive experience returning a gift to a store that they rarely visit would motivate them to shop more often at that store and 83.3% of respondents say they would share information about a positive gift return experience with friends and family

An even greater number of respondents, 86.9%, said they would share a negative return experience with friends and family providing yet additional evidence that the customer relationship is on the line.

"The concept of high-risk touch points continues to gain the interest of retailers, as customers are increasingly fickle and their loyalty is divided,” says LoyaltyOne Consulting Managing Partner Dennis Armbruster. “It's no longer just about attracting shoppers in the store, it's about cultivating their loyalty through the entire sales and return process.”

Armbruster says the retailer who handles the return incorrectly has much more to lose than the sale.  “Social has made the returns process a winners or losers game in the court of public opinion," he says. "Retailers should use shopper data to identify who their best customer segments are, and base return policies on what would suit this group. Retailers should use data to identify if the gift returner is a regular customer, and factor this into return guidelines – possibly extending the return deadline for loyalty program members.”

 Some other key findings from the research on the gift return experience:

  • More men indicated they have had a poor experience returning a gift to a retailer (45.1% of men vs. 31.7% of women)              
  • More men indicated they would be motivated to shop more at a retailer they don’t or rarely visit after a positive gift return experience (81.7% of men vs. 70.7% of women)
  • 55.5% of millennials (ages 18-24) say they are stressed by the gift return experience, significantly above the rate of the general population (50.9%);
  • 57.9% of women say they are stressed by the gift return experience, well above the rate of the general population (50.9%);
  • 54.9% of Northeasterners say they are stressed by the gift return experience, scoring higher for stress than respondents from the Midwest, South and West.

The survey results are based on a January 21, 2015, online Google Consumer Survey featuring 1,207 responses. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.9.