- Though the holiday season has ended, consumers' spending hasn't. More than half (51%) of shoppers said they plan to shop after Christmas, with 38% planning to return gifts this year, according to a RetailMeNot survey of more than 1,000 consumers.
- Multiple brands and retailers, including Amazon, Macy's, Athleta and Best Buy, have generous holiday return policies or have extended the returns period until mid-to-late January, according to RetailMeNot's return policy analysis. Per the survey, 34% of respondents said they're shopping for themselves after the holiday season ends.
- New Year's resolutions are also impacting spend, as nearly half (49%) of consumers are planning to spend money on their goals. Among the top resolutions were exercising more (35%), spending time with family (28%) and traveling (19%), but saving money (44%) was also high on the list.
So far, research suggests that 2021 holiday sales grew despite COVID-19 pandemic concerns, as many firms predicted early on in the season. Though NRF forecasted holiday sales growth could reach 11.5% in 2021, a recent report from Mastercard's SpendingPulse found that holiday retail sales (excluding vehicles) grew by 8.5% compared to last year, with clothing increasing by 47.3%. Mastercard also found that online sales rose by 11% from 2020.
"Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves," Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc., said in a statement. "Consumers splurged throughout the season, with apparel and department stores experiencing strong growth as shoppers sought to put their best-dressed foot forward."
RetailMeNot isn't the only one pointing to a possible spike in returns following the increase in sales. A report from CBRE and Optoro predicts that shoppers could return $66.7 billion in merchandise this year, up 45.6% over the the past five-year average.
Returns are a complicated issue for retailers, as generous returns policies have to some extent become expected. At the same time, returns processes can harm a retailer's financials and the environment, with retailers often liquidating or getting rid of the unwanted items.