As we shift into the new calendar year, the i’s are officially dotted, and t’s crossed on the 2022 holiday season. CivicScience previously examined holiday gifting trends in anticipation of another potentially record-setting season of gift returns. With the 2022 holiday season officially unwrapped, it’s time to revisit and see where things stand regarding gift returns. 

New post-2022 holiday season polling of 3,000 U.S. adults who celebrated the holidays finds more than three-quarters (78%) have decided they will not be returning or exchanging any gifts they have received. Conversely, 22% have already made a return or will be doing so soon.

Many retailers, for their part, have changed the process of how customers can make returns in anticipation of another record season of returns. As many as 6-in-10 retailers have made policy changes that will affect every aspect of the return process.

Which type of holiday gifts do Americans plan on returning most?

Clothing and accessories top the list of holiday gifts Americans plan to return or exchange following the conclusion of the holiday season. Unsurprising to see when considering the 1-in-4 chance of receiving a clothing item as a gift this season and that 55% of gift returners said clothing and related items are typically the gifts they returned most often. 

Reviewing spending patterns from the 2022 holiday season.

Anticipated spending on gifts reached its highest level in over a year this past December. Additionally, holiday shoppers were overall more likely to shop at discount stores and less likely to shop at local/small businesses. How did these shake out in the final 2022 holiday spending picture? 

New CivicScience data derived from 3,000 U.S. adult poll respondents show 30% of holiday shoppers said they spent more than they planned to for the 2022 season, with 10% spending ‘a lot more.’ Those opting to shop at department stores and small or locally-owned businesses felt more encouraged about how much they spent. Department store shoppers, in particular, felt the best about their spending, as 37% reported spending less than expected, though income level may play a role here as well. 

On the other hand, holiday shoppers began the holiday season expecting to do more of their shopping at discount stores but among them more than half (52%) came away spending more for holiday shopping than they originally planned. Specialty chain store shoppers also left with sticker shock, as nearly 50% spent more than they originally anticipated spending.

Inflation may be on the decline but prices still remain high and are still affecting where people shop and how much they’re spending. CivicScience will continue to monitor this ever-shifting economic landscape.

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