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Most Shoppers Think Retailers Have Fair Return Policies, According to NRF Holiday Returns Survey

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For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202) 783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com

Most Shoppers Think Retailers Have Fair Return Policies, According to NRF Holiday Returns Survey
--2/3 of Gift Recipients Did Not Return a Single Gift Last Holiday Season--

Washington, December 9, 2008 – Shoppers buying their friends and family gifts this year want peace of mind that a duplicate gift or one that doesn’t fit properly can be returned at any time. This holiday season, many retailers are adjusting their return policies to be more accommodating to holiday returns and shoppers are holding up their end of the bargain by giving gift receipts with holiday gifts. 

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Holiday Returns Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, many gift givers try to meet retailers halfway by attaching gift receipts with packages. Nearly 60 percent (59.6%) of shoppers said they include either the original receipt or a gift receipt at least some of the time, slightly higher than 57.5 percent who said the same last year. In addition, the survey found that nearly nine out of ten Americans (87.2%) feel retailers’ return policies are fair.

NRF’s annual Return Fraud Survey, released in November, found more than half (52%) of retailers return policies will be more lenient during the holiday season than the rest of the year. 

“As retailers grapple with a struggling economy, providing great customer service remains a top priority,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers will make sure they have extra staff available to assist with holiday returns this year.”

 While retailers view returns as a cost of doing business, most gift recipients don’t return a thing. According to the survey, two-thirds (65.2%) of gift recipients did not return any gifts last holiday season. 

NRF's tips for stress-free returns after the holidays:

1.  Know the retailer's return policy before you buy. Most retailers have return policies
prominently displayed, especially at this time of year. Gift-givers should read and remember them. If policies are not clearly displayed, ask a sales associate or a manager to explain them to you.

2.  Save and file all receipts! Receipts are still the key to hassle-free returns. Some retailers will allow consumers to exchange merchandise without a receipt, but without a receipt, a retailer may only provide merchandise credit for the lowest markdown-price at which the item was sold during the holiday season. Make sure to provide the recipient with a gift receipt to save hassle after the holidays. 

3.  Provide all original packaging and all parts (including tags) when giving a gift. Some retailers won't accept returns unless the item is in its original package. If you plan to take back a gift when it is unwrapped, resist the urge to open it or play with it. No one wants to buy someone else's merchandise. 

4.  Make online returns easy! Returns are a part of shopping, no matter where you buy. In addition to the other rules of returns, here are a few things to find out before you purchase a gift online:

-  Know the process: Who pays for shipping the return--you or the merchant? Some merchants will pick up the delivery charges for exchanges, but not for returns, others offer free return shipping on every return.

-  Where to make returns: Does the retailer have a physical store, and can returns or exchanges be made there? Make sure you have the correct address if you need to mail returns back to the company. Some merchants have offsite service centers to handle returns that may be in a different location from where the merchandise is sent.

5.  Be patient. Remember, the week after Christmas is one of the busiest weeks of the retail year. With people’s frustration high and tolerance low, be patient when returning merchandise.

About the SurveyThe NRF 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,758 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, November 5-11, 2008. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.   

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2007 sales of $4.5 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.  '