Holiday gift returns are expected to reach $63 billion the following days, given the fact that as many as 10% of all the gifts purchased for Christmas will be brought back on the store shelves.
These estimates have been released by officials at the National Retail Federation (NRF), who have also warned that returns amounting to $2.2 billion will actually be illegal.
The value of such fraudulent operations, corresponding to around 3.5% of all the Christmas holiday returns, is expected to be much higher than the one reported last year ($1.9 million), surpassing it by as much as $300 million.
As a result, increased vigilance will be required in order to effectively screen products that have been stolen from the shops, that have already been worn or used, or whose receipts are missing or have been forged.
For instance, merchandisers believe that around 10% of the products which clients will attempt to pass of as legit buys, despite not being able to provide proof of purchase, will actually consist in items obtained illicitly, a significant increase since the previous year, when just around 5% of goods were believed to fall in this category.
According to predictions made by NRF representatives, this will lead to a sharp drop in sales tax net collections at state level, adding up to a loss verging from $552 million to $962 million.
The most significant revenue drain will most likely be encountered in California, when products worth $33.7 will be given back to retailers, while in Texas the items expected to be returned will have a total value of around $21.2 billion, out of which up to $1.3 billion will be represented by fraudulent transactions.
Despite the fact that technological advances have made it easier to detect such irregularities, Bob Moraca, vice-president of loss prevention at NRF warns that the overwhelming number of returns will make it incredibly difficult for businesses to actually detect all these illegitimate requests.
By the time 2015 has ended, clients will have returned items amounting to $260 billion in the last 12 months, this sum resulting in a revenue loss of around 8%, which is why shop assistants will be extra careful before approving any such transaction the following days.
Given this increased wariness shown by retailers, customers are advised not to bide their time until January before trying to take back holiday gifts that they have been disappointed with.
Obviously, the success of this attempt to get one’s money back will depend on being able to provide a receipt, and on the product not having been already used or worn, except for the odd try-out.
Moreover, clients should obtain information regarding the store policy concerning returns, so as to make sure they will take the items back on time, in order to benefit from their desired product exchange or full refund.
Apparently, as the Many Happy Returns study published by Consumer Reports has shown, the best companies when it comes to satisfying returns are Costco, Orvis, Kohl’s, Zappos, Harry & David, L.L. Bean, Lands’ End and Eddie Bauer.
Also, Sears has recently switched up its old guidelines, accepting just items that have been bought in the last 30 days, while Target Owned Brand products can be returned within a year from the date of purchase, as long as a receipt can be provided.
Last but not least, those who have obtained unappealing gift cards that they don’t wish to redeem have the possibility to sell or exchange them, on websites such as CardCash.com or Cardpool.com.
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