Some Would Return Gifts, Shop on Christmas Day, Report Finds

Why wait until December 26? Throw the doors open on Christmas for returns and sales appears to be the message to retailers, particularly from millennials.

When LoyaltyOne Consulting, a firm specializing in assessing, designing and implementing analytics-driven loyalty and customer experience strategies, asked 1,267 American consumers nationwide in November what they would do if retailers opened for business at 6 p.m. Christmas evening, 18% of general population respondents (age 18 to 65 and older) said they would take advantage of the extra time to shop.

Among millennials in the 18-24 age group, 30% said they’d shop on Christmas. Among older millennials in the 25-34 year-old age bracket, 27% said they’d leave hearth and home on Dec. 25 to head for the mall.

Conversely, 24% of the general population said they wouldn’t shop on Christmas, and would be less likely to shop in the future at a store open on Christmas, or recommend such a store to friends and family.

Moreover, 58% of the general population said simply that they’d never shop on Christmas. The never-shop-on-Christmas score for young millennials (age 18-24) fell to 53%, for older millennials (age 25-34) it was 52%.

While consumers appear divided on the shop-on-Christmas issue, they are united in demanding that retailers put their best foot forward when it comes to customer service during the holiday season, their busiest time of the year:

  • 94% of all shoppers surveyed said they expect retailers to take extra measures to keep checkout lines moving during the holiday rush
  • 80% of shoppers said they blame the retailer if they have to wait because of another customer’s coupons, returns or customer service problems; except in the millennial demographic, where four out of ten said they resent the other customer, not the store, for making them wait
  • 89% of all shoppers said they expect retailers to take extra measures to keep departments orderly despite the busy season
  • 59% of shoppers said holiday gift return policies make or break their opinion of a retailer
  • 20% of shoppers reported an unhappy experience during last year’s gift-buying season that completely ruined their holiday mood; for young millennials (18-24) that score soared to 40% and for older millennials (25-34) it was 30%.

“Consumers are telling us in this survey that the holiday gift-buying season is, itself, a high-risk touchpoint. Shoppers are demanding retailers maintain service levels, they’re making it clear to retailers they’re not prepared to cut them any slack when it comes to their expectations,” LoyaltyOne Consulting Managing Partner Dennis Armbruster said. “Retailers that focus on pricing, assortment and other operational concerns but fail to invest adequately in delivering high-quality service during the holidays are risking long-term revenue losses.”

Despite the reputation that crowded parking lots have for keeping shoppers away, survey takers indicated their time is a more precious commodity than a parking space. When asked why they avoided stores completely during the holiday season, 36% of shoppers said their primary reason is waiting too long at the checkout.

LoyaltyOne Consulting is owned by LoyaltyOne. Its survey results are based on an online survey in November 2015 of 1,267 American consumers. The margin of error is +/- 3% at the 90-95% confidence level.

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