Money Matters: Avoid these most-returned gifts

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According to the National Retail Federation, 40% percent of shoppers expect to be done with their Christmas shopping by Dec 19, leaving some 60 percent still at it as late as Christmas Eve (or, for 4 percent, after the holiday itself). The last Saturday before Christmas is expected to be extra busy this year.
For many reporters working the pre-holiday weekend, that means being sent to the mall to talk to those last-minute shoppers. Here’s a game to make a standard story interesting: Ask those procrastinating buyers what they plan to purchase and for whom, then compare their answers to retailers’ reports of the most-returned gifts.
According to retail logistics providers, about $90 billion worth of merchandise, or just over 10% of holiday purchases, will be returned by the end of February
Some of the most returned items include:
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Beauty products
  • Sports/outdoor gear
  • Toys
  • Seasonal items and décor
Other commonly returned items include glassware, video games, tools, DVDs, candy, electronics, perfume and candles.
Last-minute shoppers, in other words, might be better off with a gift card (but note that around $1 billion in gift cards go unspent, too) or even a special contribution to a family meal instead.
Next week: What happens to holiday returns?
Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education