According to the National Retail Federation’s third annual Return Fraud Survey, 52 percent of respondents indicated they would be more lenient with returns than during the rest of the year. By comparison, only 35 percent said they would have eased return policies for the holiday season a year ago.
The study found that retailers will alter their return policies on a number of fronts, including extending the amount of time customers may return products, to accepting more returns without a receipt. Still, 17 percent of respondents said they would impose stricter return guidelines, up from 15 percent last year.
Nearly 72 percent said their policies would remain unchanged.
“In a year where practicality is paramount, many retailers are making return policies more flexible for customers who need to bring back duplicate or unwanted gifts after the holidays,” NRF VP of loss prevention Joe LaRocca said in a press release. “Retailers seem to be finding a balance between providing good customer service to shoppers while preventing criminals from taking advantage of lenient policies.”
The study found that returns as a percentage of sales are on the rise and are expected to account for nearly 9 percent of sales, up from 7 percent a year ago. At the same time, fraudulent returns appear to be on the decline, expected to account for about 8 percent of holiday returns, down from 9 percent last year.
In all, the NRF expects holiday returns to amount to $47.1 billion.