Holiday returns, shopping continues

According to the National Retail Federation, viewing returns as a lost sale and bad for business is a myth. In-store returns present the retailer with an opportunity to engage the customer and encourage them to make an additional purchase. Chris Torres/The Signal

Holiday shopping is expected to break records, and projections estimate holiday retail spending reaching $860 billion. Still, holiday returns average 13.3% of all holiday sales, which equals over $100 billion in returns, according to the National Retail Federation

Research conducted by NRF said more than 80% of holiday returns occur in January, with 3.23% making returns in December. However, even with increased returns, retail stores don’t plan to hire more staff and expect more time needed to process those returns. 

Additionally, this year, many consumers made their purchases earlier than usual and may increase earlier in-store returns.  

For Kirk Yeager, owner of Paper Hero’s Comics in Saugus, the business saw an uptick in sales during the last days before Christmas, with many coming to the store the day after Christmas to spend the money they received as a gift. 

Like many shoppers, Drake Rezendes was one of those customers who began their holiday shopping earlier this year but enjoyed supporting the small hobby shop.  

(Left tor Right) Kirk Yeager, the CEO of Paper Heroes Comics and Games, rings up Drake Rezendes at Paper Heroes in Saugus, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. Chris Torres/The Signal
Kirk Yeager, the CEO and Owner of Paper Heroes Comics and Games, said he recieved a surge in customers purchasing from his store about two days leading up to Christmas Day. Yeager said the interest in comics went up during the pandemic, when he initially thought the industry would suffer. Chris Torres/The Signal

“Well I got some cash from some people that didn’t know what I wanted,” Rezendes said. “So I came to Paper Hero’s Comics because I’m invested in every hobby known to man.” 

The last-minute purchases for Christmas saw the comic shop experience at least a 20% increase in holiday sales from last year, according to Yeager. 

Returns at the comic shop are nearly nonexistent because the items sold at Paper Hero’s Comics are not returnable. However, people have offered to sell collectors’ items such as Pokemon or Yugioh cards that may have stolen from a major department store or an individual, according to Yeager. 

Additionally, people have tried to sell products to comic shops that are fake productions of high-valued cards from China. 

“So they’re making fakes and flooding the market with expensive cards on occasion,” Yeager said. 

Total returns account for $428 billion in lost sales for retailers, and online sales account for the overall increase in returns. Additionally, for every $100 of returned merchandise, a retailer will lose $5.90, according to NRF. 

Fraudulent returns average 10.1% of all holiday returns or equal $10 billion in lost revenue. However, returns offer a unique opportunity for retailers to build a relationship with their customers. 

Returns after Christmas creates a unique opportunity for retailers to engage their customers and learn from their buying habits. Nearly 70% of customers prefer to return items — in-store — even if purchased online. 

The ability to return an item purchased online or from a holiday gift can encourage buyers to purchase more merchandise, according to NRF. 

In a survey conducted by NRF, more than 65% of people surveyed said they plan to do post-Christmas shopping. The three biggest reasons include purchasing items with special offers, using gift cards and exchanging or returning gifted items.  

Bobby Hernandez and Brittany Barrera visited the Westfield Valencia Town Center to return some gifted items to Forever 21 because some merchandise was the wrong size. They’re like many Americans shopping and returning items after Christmas. 

Barrera said she chose to go shopping on the day after Christmas to find the right size for her exchange and found additional merchandise she wanted to buy that matched her needs and didn’t want to risk not finding the right size later. 

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