Appriss Retail has recently released 2018 holiday returns statistics that unveil several unexpected trends in consumer return behavior this past holiday season. With return authorization solutions deployed in more than 34,000 stores across the country, Appriss Retail annually reports on the state of post-holiday returns in the United States. The company’s breadth of retail clients and deep analytical expertise uniquely position it to draw an accurate portrayal of this shopping activity during the seven days after Christmas.
“These statistics provide a snapshot of the state of post-holiday returns and are intended to offer retailers insights on return behaviors and the opportunities they provide for re-capturing return dollars,” said David Speights, chief data scientist at Appriss Retail. “Foot traffic in stores is very high on the days before and after Christmas. Our goal is to help retailers optimize their return processes and offer a positive shopping experience for their consumers.”
Four Facts about 2018 Holiday Returns
1. The day after Christmas holds its position as the peak return day of the year. This is when all return registers should be properly staffed, and associates should be ready to deliver the best customer experience. Returns peaked on Dec. 26, 2018, at 2:27 pm PST (5:27 pm EST), about four hours later than last year’s apex.
2. The highest rate of returns nationwide occurred on Wednesday, Dec. 26, where returns were about twice the normal rate seen during the holiday season. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of that same week were also big return days compared to the rest of the holiday season.
3. The average return rate in this study was 12.9 percent. The states with the highest rate of returns, when comparing total dollars purchased to total dollars returned and exchanged, appeared in two distinct clusters.
- In the Midwest, Missouri had the highest rate of returns with 18.7 percent. Illinois and Iowa tied for the second highest at 17.6 percent.
- Idaho, Utah, and Colorado also experienced high return rates compared to surrounding states, with return rates above 15.1 percent.
- The state with the lowest rate of returns was Minnesota with 4.8 percent.
4. The peak day for all retail transactions—returns and sales combined—was Saturday, Dec. 22. Appriss concludes that buy-online, return in-store (BORIS) has skewed consumer behavior and pre-Christmas returns are growing.
Poor Processes and Outdated Policies Can Increase Shrink
Now that holidays have concluded, retail executives can again focus on a wider set of business metrics, including shrink and margin. Appriss Retail’s multi-year analysis indicates that while convenient returns please consumers, poorly managed return processes and outdated policies can contribute significantly to shrink by permitting fraudulent and abusive returns. This can be especially true for BORIS returns.
As companies look to improve their performance and profitability, eliminating friction at the return counter can help attract and retain best customers and increase their long-term value, while still reducing the risk of margin-eroding loss.