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The most returned Christmas gifts

It's nearly universally understood that apparel is taken back most frequently. However, electronics may be catching up.

By Karen Datko Dec 21, 2011 11:59AM

Hate to be the one to tell you this, but someone on your Christmas list is going to return your gift to the store. And you may never know about it. A poll by Western Union last year said 75% of Americans have lied about liking a gift they did not.

 

Want to increase the chances that your carefully chosen gift will not be returned? Don't buy the most returned gift. Hands down, it's clothes and other apparel. It doesn't fit, the color is not right, it does make your butt look big, or it's just downright ugly.

 

There are other most returned gifts to avoid.

 

An oft-quoted report from Pr-inside.com about a survey conducted for Kohl's in 2008 found that these gifts were identified by respondents as most likely to be returned:

  • Clothing, 74%.
  • Items for the home, 11%.
  • Beauty or fragrance, 8%.
  • Electronics, 5%.
  • Jewelry or watches, 2%.

Those results were more or less supported by a January 2011 survey by MarketTools:

  • Clothing and shoes, mentioned by 62% of respondents.
  • Toys, games and hobbies, 16%.
  • Consumer electronics, 14%.
  • Kitchen and bath, 13%.
  • Beauty and cosmetics, 10%.
  • Jewelry and watches, 10%.

Other evidence suggests that electronics are moving quickly up the list of undesirables. Accenture says:

Customers returning electronics products will cost U.S. consumer electronics retailers and manufacturers nearly $17 billion this year, an increase of 21 percent since 2007. . . . These costs include receiving, assessing, repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling returned products.

The return rate for electronics is between 11% and 20%. Although it's unclear why most are taken back, the vast majority are not defective.


Post continues below.

While unhappy recipients generally keep their disappointment close to the vest, one in five U.S. adults surveyed confessed to Consumer Reports they got a gift they didn't like. Here's what they did:

Eighteen percent donated it to charity; 15 percent re-gifted it to an unsuspecting family member, friend, or coworker; 11 percent returned the item to the retailer for a refund or merchandise credit, the same percentage . . . elected to toss the gift in the trash. Six percent tried to resell their lousy gifts.

Wait. It gets worse. Consumer Reports also says:

Some irked recipients chose a more brazen response. Two percent of those surveyed actually confronted the original giver to return an unwanted present. Another 2 percent retaliated with ridicule -- posting photos of the cringe-worthy item on the Internet.

Actually, return of gifts has already begun this year, and a relatively high rate of returns is expected. So keep these two important rules in mind:

  • If you're the giver, please DO include a gift receipt in the box. Hopefully the retailer won't pull a fast one and give the returner a post-holiday sale price, rather than cash or credit for the price you paid.
  • If you realize a present is not what you want, DO NOT open the manufacturer's box it came in, particularly if it's something electronic. The store may charge a restocking fee or not accept the return at all if it's been opened.

Should you be embarrassed about taking it back? Apparently not, but you still are, according to a American Express survey:

Most consumers say they are not concerned by the prospect of a friend or family member returning a gift. While more than half of holiday gift givers (56%) don't care, most recipients are still unlikely to confess to a loved one that their gift was returned to the store (59%).

So what's really the worst gift you can give? According to TopTenz.net, it's a gift that can't be taken back to the store. "Never, never, never give the gift that can't be returned," Lee Standberry wrote. "We live in the age of self-indulgence -- it's sad but, nevertheless, true."

More on MSN Money:

62Comments
Dec 21, 2011 2:57PM
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Buy your friend a fine bottle of wine a couple of beautiful new wine glasses Guaranteed will not be returned  Merry Christmas
Dec 21, 2011 3:04PM
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These articles are so confusing.  Gift cards are bad, cash is bad, this percentage of people are going to return your gift.  As a consumer we are being told what?  Your damned if you do or damned if you don't?  With another article about stores and their not so nice return with a gift receipt (not giving back the money you paid for it), its really a wonder that we can feel good about the thought of giving.

 

OOOh wait, it's the "thought" of giving.  What if all of us "thought" of giving that PICKY person something and just gave them a card with a "thoughtful" wish.  But then they might not like the card we sent them. Yes I'm being sarcastic LOL

 

I hope everyone out there has a great Holiday!  Don't stress over the perfect gift, looks like it's probably going to get returned anyway. :)

 

 

Dec 21, 2011 3:12PM
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People buyin stuff just to have a present for someone, buyin clothes that they have no idea on the size or color; or those junky quick gifts wal mart has at the front of the store.  If you don't want it what makes you think someone else wants it either?   Christmas isnt about getting a bunch of junk, or a expensive gift to impress or outdo someone else.  Gee whiz.
Dec 21, 2011 3:17PM
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Buy your friend a fine bottle of wine a couple of beautiful new wine glasses Guaranteed will not be returned
That only works if you know your friend likes wine. I rarely drink and can't stand any wine I've tasted, so I can guarantee if I got a bottle as a gift it would be regifted Wink

Best bet: Only buy gifts for people you know well. Don't know what someone likes or doesn't like? You probably don't know them well enough for them to care that you didn't get them anything.
Dec 21, 2011 3:19PM
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I made my gift giving a whole less complicated.  I took what the average person spends on gifts this holiday season and made donations to a favorite mission of mine in Haiti.  I then had them make up cards stating that my gift in my recepient's honor has bought X for the people in Haiti.   I *know* my money will be put to good use without worry.
Dec 21, 2011 3:21PM
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What ever happened to the Christmas holiday being magical and a treat. WIth all the hype about sales and shopping till you drop, the real meaning has gotten lost...really lost! I have had family members say some very rude things when given gifts, and they dont even pretend to be ashamed of it! Wheteher its a five dollar gift or a five hundered dollar gifts we should be thankful the person even considered us at all! I feel like one in a million in this generation of thirty somethings, please people start believing in something other than retail therapy!
Dec 21, 2011 3:30PM
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Quated text:  Buy your friend a fine bottle of wine a couple of beautiful new wine glasses Guaranteed will not be returned  Merry Christmas

 

Not a guaranteed gift - I already regifted two bottles that I got this year. 

Dec 21, 2011 3:32PM
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If you are giving a gift just because you receive a gift, consider just writing a thank you letter and include pictures of you and/or family.  A hand written letter has much more meaning than a quick email.  A picture outside of the computer also goes a long way.
Give someone a phone call.  Make them some cookies.
Dec 21, 2011 3:42PM
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You have to know what a person likes if you want to get them a gift they'll enjoy.  If they like to draw, get them some art supplies, pencils and paper.  If they like to take walks in the rain, get them an umbella.  If they like to read, check the books on their shelves and try to find one that would fit right in with the ones they have and if you can arrange to have the author sign it, that would be a great surprise. 
Dec 21, 2011 3:45PM
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"Buy your friend a fine bottle of wine a couple of beautiful new wine glasses Guaranteed will not be returned  Merry Christmas"

 

I hate wine, but I would be more than thrilled to receive a 6 pack...

Dec 21, 2011 3:46PM
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It's not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts- not just for Christmas but for every occasion. Americans have gotten so selfish!! Also, Christmas is not just about the gifts. It's also about Christ. My aunt and her children and grandchildren have a cake every Christmas day and they sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. They understand that this is what comes first, and then the gifts follow later on after they have lunch. It is actually very nice and the children are not selfish. They LOVE when "mimi" makes them stuff, even the teenagers.

 

BUT when in doubt on what to get someone, I say just give a gift card pre-loaded that they can use anywhere. I am always afraid I am going to buy them something they have or are going to receive more than once for the holiday. Especially for children

Dec 21, 2011 3:46PM
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Giving to someone who has everything is a wast of time, they never really appreciate it! I'd rather give to someone in need.

Dec 21, 2011 3:49PM
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It is unfortunate people feel and is by our society put under such pressure to buy, buy, and buy, at this time of year, often with funds they don’t have or need for REAL needs.  My kids asked me what I wanted for the holidays… They said I deserve so much and wanted to go all out. All are doing OK, but things are tight for a lot of people, so I asked for what I think is the best gift of all, I asked for their time and companionship for the holidays, a card Handmade if possible, a ornament for the tree that they think reflects them so I will think of them year after year as we put up our tree… This holiday is for family and for Christians the birth of Christ, Everyone needs to remember that. It’s Christmas not buy as much as you can Crapmas…. Happy Holidays all, and remember being with the people you care about is more important than any TV no matter how many inches across….

Dec 21, 2011 3:49PM
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"The return rate for electronics is between 11% and 20%. Although it's unclear why most are taken back, the vast majority are not defective. "

 

Easy.  I tried to buy my daughter an electronic device, only to find that since it was a "hot toy", ONE person had gone in on black friday and bought out TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of this device, not leaving one for anyone else.  He actually told the clerks that he was going to sell them on eBay.

 

Guess what the guy in question is going to do with this electronic device if he has any left over on December 26th?

 

Wise up, stores.  Limit sale quantities.  Fewer upset customers.  Fewer disappointed kids.  Fewer returns.

Dec 21, 2011 3:50PM
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How about we stop giving gifts all around. This has become a holiday full of selfish greedy actions.
Dec 21, 2011 4:03PM
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You guys are crazy. Lets be honest here, all of you are so kind and not greedy and only wish for world peace...correct? Get over yourselves!  People can buy for others and enjoy it, no one feels forced so lets not play the sympathy card, shall we. These are merely stats, so enjoy them and don't complain about the pressure of being Mr. Santa Claus, that song has been heard a million times over.
Dec 21, 2011 4:12PM
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I have to agree with urapinb.....we need to STOP giving gifts.   Most people, especially children, have forgotten the REAL meaning of Christmas other than getting "presents."    It's getting so commercialized that it's frightening!   Just ask ANY child what Christmas means and you will be surprised at their answer!
Dec 21, 2011 4:23PM
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"I have to agree with urapinb.....we need to STOP giving gifts.   Most people, especially children, have forgotten the REAL meaning of Christmas other than getting "presents."    It's getting so commercialized that it's frightening!   Just ask ANY child what Christmas means and you will be surprised at their answer!"

**Its all in how you raise them.

Dec 21, 2011 4:24PM
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My husband and I went to Heifer.org and bought chickens, rabbits, and seedlings and put it in the names of the three families on my husband's side that we ususally buy gifts for....so much better and self satisfying for all, especially since they have more than they need!   Any gift you give to a charity in someone's name will never be returned and will definitely be used! 
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