As many as 64 percent of consumers prefer to make holiday gift returns or exchanges in-store, versus 12 percent who prefer online, according to a study by location-based mobile platform Retale.
The study focused on several areas regarding returns and exchanges including preferred venues, overall conveniences and barriers to entry.
Looking at holiday gift giving in general, 72 percent of shoppers were "very pleased" with what they received and 10 percent were displeased. About 24 percent stated that they are likely to return or exchange at least one holiday gift and the reasons for doing so were not having a need for it, 44 percent; it was defective, 34 percent; and would rather have store credit, 9 percent.
When it came to where to make the returns, numbers were up for online slightly from 2015, when 9 percent preferred online returns and 70 percent preferred in-store returns. Still, in-store returns and exchanges in 2016 were more than five times more preferred than online to due perceived convenience.
In fact, 75 percent of respondents rated in-store as convenient while 26 percent calling it inconvenient. For online returns, 54 percent of those surveyed called it convenient versus 45 percent inconvenient.
"Customers like the convenience of being able to return anything in-store," said Pat Dermody, president of Retale. "While retailers advocate this multichannel experience, they are fast coming to understand that processing returns in-store, for purchases made online and with free-shipping, comes with an additional cost. Whether they will ultimately be able to absorb the impact and continue to offer this convenience to multichannel shoppers, without charging them, remains to be seen."
Although returns are naturally a big part of the holiday shopping season, it is also a costly aspect for retailers. The National Retail Federation estimated that retail fraud cost retailers $2.2 billion during the holidays in 2015.
In total, consumers return $642.6 billion worth of goods annually, and the United States ranks as the largest contributor to global returns at $221.7 billion a year.
-See this Retale press release
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