Retailers have been bracing for the frenzy of returns expected after the holiday season. Some have even prepared by changing their return policies to mitigate the costs of the returns and exchanges. What does the gift return rush look like now that the 2023 holiday season has come to a close?

CivicScience data collected at the end of the holiday season found that nearly 1-in-3 U.S. adults who received gifts plan to make a return or exchange. That’s up a total of nine points from the 2022 holiday season, or a 47% increase.


Join the Conversation: Which gift items do you tend to return or exchange the most?


Some may be more likely than others to send an item back or exchange it. Gen Z adults are the least satisfied with their gifts this year and have made the most returns or plan to. Gift recipients living in cities are also more likely than others to make a return.

Additional insights from the CivicScience InsightStore™:

  • People making gift returns and exchanges this year are highly brand-centric: 39% report brand is more important than price when shopping, compared to just 15% of gift recipients not making returns.
  • Men are more likely to return/exchange a gift than women, while those who earn $100K or more annually are the most likely to make a return/exchange.
  • Those returning/exchanging gifts are over twice as likely to be heavier online shoppers: 64% said they have been shopping online more than usual for this time of year, compared to just 31% of gift recipients not making returns.

Returns have a significant impact on retail businesses, having cost an estimated $816 billion in revenue in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation. With more consumers having made or expecting to make gift returns, the 2023 holiday season could have an even bigger annual impact than normal.


Take Our Poll: Have you ever knowingly worn an item from a store and returned it to the same store afterwards?


Looking for more consumer insights? Get in touch to learn how the CivicScience InsightStore™ – collecting more than 4 million responses daily – can help brands navigate the rapidly-changing landscape of the retail industry.