In-person returns preferred for online purchases in US

According to PayPal, shoppers in the US now prefer in-person returns for returning purchases made online, with returns by mail ranked as the fourth, a significantly less desirable option.

The new insights into returns were revealed in the second annual consumer report, ‘Returns Happen‘ from PayPal’s Happy Returns. The report details evolving habits of online shoppers, focusing on how attitudes toward online returns can inform merchant solutions.

Merchants are facing greater challenges with online returns heading into this holiday shopping season, including increased logistics costs due to inflation, higher return rates as more shopping moves online, and customer expectations for online returns that are easy and free, Despite these challenges, the growing preference for in-person, box-free returns is a huge opportunity to deliver customers the seamless returns experience they’re looking for, while significantly driving down costs by up to 40%.

– David Sobie, VP of Happy Returns

Consumers plan to return gifts this year

With festivities around the corner, retailers might not be eager to hear that 50% of consumers are planning on returning the gifts they receive this year. It’s good to note the expectations when it comes to returns and plan accordingly. 86% of consumers say they make a point to check a retailer’s return policy and the desire for free returns is still very strong with 87% of consumers stating free returns are an important factor when purchasing items online.

Bracketing, the act of buying multiple items with the intention of returning some is also likely to continue. More than 1 in 3 consumers plan to bracket their purchases this holiday season, putting even more pressure on retailers.

Nearly 1 in 4 have been returning a greater percentage of their online purchases as a result of inflation and other economic pressures that are impacting their financial health. This number skews even higher for those under the age of 45. When it comes to returning, 79% of consumers want to avoid mail-in returns whenever possible and 54% of consumers prefer in-person drop off at either the retailer’s store or third-party stores.