One in three return at least one unwanted Christmas present every year, Blue Yonder finds


Research by predictive analytics firm Blue Yonder has found that one in three of us return at least one gift a year after Christmas, rising to 40% of millenials versus 20% of over 55s. Interestingly men are most likely to return gifts, with 1 in 10 returning at least three presents. The research also found that people from Brighton and London are more likely to return gifts, with over half admitting to returning at least one.

This combined with the fact that one in five parents return gifts even before Christmas day because they have found the presents cheaper elsewhere provides a stark warning to retailers that they need to ensure they have a robust returns strategy in place. More than that, at least some of these returns are avoidable if retailers ensure products are priced competitively ahead of Christmas. Using predictive analytics and automated decision-making, retailers can make sure they are fully up to speed on the price sensitivities around their products and minimize the chances of returns.

Markus Juhr deBenedetti, chief revenue officer, Blue Yonder says: “In the digital age, pricing between brands and retailers is much more transparent, giving consumers the opportunity to shop around with greater ease and efficiency. For brands and retailers, pricing has become even more of a critical success factor. Using predictive analytics and automated decision-making, retailers can remain competitive by keeping the price at the right level in real-time, reducing the risk of losing customers to cheaper competitors.

“Equally the returns process has become a critical success factor for retailers. They can be a drain on resource and profit margins once you consider the time it takes for staff to process them and if products are unable to be resold. If you know the reasons for returns, then you can proactively take steps to reduce them. This is where data analysis is a game-changer for retailers and brands.”

Leaving aside returns, many unwanted presents are simply left in the box or put away in a cupboard to gather dust. Over 65% don’t return gifts that are unwanted, with women (69%) less likely to return gifts than men (62%). The research also found that one in four parents spend over £100 a year on unused toys.  The reasons for not returning gifts include:

  • One in four found it too difficult to return items.
  • They didn’t have the receipt to be able to return it (52%)
  • Nearly half of parents (48%) couldn’t be bothered due to the effort required (three in10 didn’t return gifts bought online and 18% didn’t return gifts offline for this reason)
  • They didn’t want to seem rude to the gift-giver (27%)

The results also show that desperate-to-please parents are willing to pay above the odds to get their hands on the right present. The average person is willing to spend 15% more and 1 in 6 stated they would pay 25% more than the usual RRP if it meant they could get the right toy. Already stressed out parents are also willing to add to their load by travelling to ensure they get the must-have toy. Parents will travel an average of 22.27 miles and almost 1 in ten would travel more than 50 miles.

Juhr deBenedetti said: “Pricing influenced by demand and what customers are willing to pay is nothing new in retail. Inevitably during the festive period, demand for toys and gifts increases. Prices are driven by parents willing to go above and beyond to get their child the must-have toy for Christmas. What parents are willing to pay is the new standard in pricing, but retailers should be prudent to ensure their gifts are competitively priced to avoid the returns canyon.

“What does this mean for the future of shopping? Pricing models are evolving in response to the way shopper habits are changing due to online competition. Retailers are realising the need to price correctly during the festive season to entice customers and retain custom, is more important now than ever.”