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A Tale of Holiday Returns

2015 Holiday Returns

Returns peaked again on Dec. 26 at 11:15 a.m. PST/2:15 p.m. EST., this is the same time returns peaked last year. It’s clear lunchtime on the day after Christmas is the most popular return time of the entire year. This is when all return registers should be properly staffed and associates should be ready to deliver the best customer experience. It is also the ideal time to convert gift returners into regular shoppers.


- Digital Partner -
  1. The highest rate of returns nationwide occurred on Dec. 26, where returns were more than two times the normal rate seen during the holiday season. And, interestingly, because of the way
  2. Saturdays fell in relation to both Christmas and New Year’s Day, Jan. 2 was a big return day also with returns nearly double the normal rate.
  3. The Midwest states again had the highest rate of returns, when comparing total dollars purchased to total dollars returned and exchanged.
  4. Illinois had the highest rate of returns with 21.6 percent, while Missouri had the second highest at 21.3 percent.
  5. The state with the least rate of returns was Vermont with 12.2 percent

“Every year, we aim to offer key insights on return behavior to help retailers optimize their return counter and create a positive shopping experience for their consumers,” said David Speights, chief data scientist at The Retail Equation. “This might include incorporating friendly return practices that still allow for managing risk and preventing invalid returns to staffing up during certain days and times.”

As the hustle and bustle of the holidays begins to wind down, retail executives turn their attention to final shrink numbers. The Retail Equation has conducted studies to substantiate the fact that return rate and return fraud are closely tied to shrink. These studies indicate that if a retailer takes actions to prevent return fraud and abuse, shrink can be reduced by a significant amount. This suggests that paying close attention to returns is a powerful weapon to combat shrink. As companies look to improve their loss prevention metrics in the coming months, they should consider implementing strategies to reduce return rate and fraud and, ultimately, shrink.

With return authorization solutions deployed in 34,000 stores across the country, The Retail Equation, an Appriss company, annually reports on the state of post-holiday returns in the United States. The company is uniquely positioned to paint an accurate picture through the vast amounts of data it collects and analyzes during the seven days after Christmas at the point of return. This data reveals some compelling facts about consumer return behavior.

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