REDMOND, WASH. –
Checkout lines weren’t the only busy place on Black Friday. It turns out that returns counters were humming, too. And in a many cases, it seems customers may have walked from one line directly to the other.
Nearly 70 percent of products returned on Black Friday this year were purchased that day, and more than 40 percent of those returns were made within six hours of purchase, according to an analysis of 2011 Black Friday retail data conducted by Siras, the provider of product registration, return validation and lifecycle tracking services, based here.
The analysis, which encompasses millions of retail transactions at major retailers employing Siras’ technology, also revealed that 28 percent of Black Friday returns occurred within just three hours of the sale, indicating that many consumers start making returns even before leaving the store or going home from shopping.
“On a typical day at retail for consumer electronics, 14 percent of the products being returned were bought earlier the same day,” said Peter Junger, Siras president. “On Black Friday, it was 69 percent — almost five times that figure. Clearly, some people defer going to a store on Black Friday just to make a return, and the intense sales activity of the day makes it inevitable that we see an increase in the proportion of date-of-sale returns. But the difference is remarkable. One could easily speculate that many shoppers went to scoop up good deals without being sure what they would keep.”
Junger said that based on total sales and returns of items tracked by Siras, date-of-purchase return rates for items purchased on Black Friday are actually 29 percent lower than on a typical day. However, he said, the increase in sales volume – 20 to 30 times higher on Black Friday – meant that stores might be handling four or more times the number of returns of electronics they take in on an average day.
“For families that make an outing of Black Friday shopping, many were probably getting as many of the items on their checklist as they could and then, based on what they were able to get at what price, deciding what to hold onto,” said Junger.
“Of course, given the sheer volume of returns on Black Friday, retailers need to be sure to confirm the returns are legitimate, since the frenetic pace of the day could make it easier for someone to try and slip in a fraudulent or ineligible product.”