5 Most-Returned Holiday Gifts


According to a United Parcel Service estimate, tomorrow, January 3, will be the peak day for holiday gift returns. An estimated 1.3 million shipments of returned gifts will be on the way back to their senders. In December alone, about 24 million UPS packages were projected to be returns. UPS expected to handle around 800 million packages during the holiday season.

The National Retail Federation figures that $90 billion to $95 billion worth of holiday gifts — or about 11% to 13% of total holiday spending — began making their way back to retailers on December 26. Online liquidations platform B-Stock estimated that about one-third of projected 2018 holiday season sales of $123 billion will be returned.

Returned gifts from online sellers fall into a different category, however. If you’ve never returned something purchased online, you are in a fairly exclusive club. And because virtually every American has purchased something online, most consumers expect to be able to return a purchase. According to digital commerce platform maker Shopify, nearly 90% of consumers who have purchased anything online also have returned something.

Online retailers make a special point of their return policies as a part of their sales pitch. Almost half offer free return shipping, which is particularly important for apparel shoppers who often purchase multiple sizes and colors fully intending to return the items that don’t fit or that are not the right color or style or whatever.

Which leads us to the five most returned holiday gifts. At the top of the list is women’s trendy apparel. Makes perfect sense when you think about. Unless you are absolutely current on the latest trends and tuned to the same wavelength as the recipient, any item you pick out for your trendy friend is likely to be passé.

Specialty kitchen items like espresso machines and the latest crockpot are another category of gifts that find their way back to the retailer in large numbers. Your friend or spouse either already has one or doesn’t want one.

Another gift that often goes back to the store is a Lego set. That could be because all parents have already purchased a Lego set for the kiddies and have been picking up the pieces ever since. We recommend a drum set instead. Just kidding.

Small hand tools fit into the same category as kitchen gear. Chances are the recipient already has a tape measure, a drill, a hammer, a set of screwdrivers and a saw. Everything else is just window dressing and probably will never get used.

Another toy that doesn’t appeal to kids (or their parents, we hope) are those lifelike dolls that crawl around and blink at you. As CEOMOM magazine pointed out, “Little girls around the world have spoken; they’d rather play with trucks.”

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