Shoppers may be eager to find the best Black Friday deals, but in doing so they may overlook one area where they could be impacted: Product returns.
Six out of 10 retailers are changing their return policies this holiday season, according to a recent survey of 500 retailers by goTRG, a return management service provider. Those changes often don’t benefit consumers, said Sender Shamiss, CEO of goTRG, with many stores shortening return times while adding additional warehousing and online return fees. .
The changes may come as a surprise to some shoppers accustomed to generous return policies common during the pandemic, as retailers relax their guidelines to help consumers. breathe easier. For example, Kohl’s and Bloomingdale’s have extended their 2020 returns by 30 and 90 days respectively.
But retailers are now dealing with aand the economy is slowing, prompting some countries to tighten their policies. The bottom line for Black Friday shoppers, experts say: Check the return policy before you buy to avoid unwanted surprises.
“Now retailers are saying, ‘We don’t care if the customer is going to cause a crazy return nightmare that we can’t afford,'” Shamiss said.
He added that retail executives are concerned about the strength of the economy “and are making sure their policies serve their businesses in the best way possible.”
Shorter window at Amazon
Among the changes this year at major retailers: Amazon, speak customers who purchased items between October 11 and December 25 can return them through January 31, 2023. shorter window than last yearwhen buyers can return items purchased between October 1 and December 31, 2021 through January 31, 2022.
Some retailers are now charging customers for online returns, although they typically don’t charge for items brought back to brick-and-mortar locations. That can help keep costs down for retailers, while encouraging more people to visit the store, where they might want to buy more items while returning.
Shamiss said: “Fruits that are about to fall are changing the return policy. “As e-commerce matured, they started pulling back on the ultra-liberal policies that existed for profit.”
For example, H&M charges $5.99 for US return shipping, which is deducted from a customer’s refund when they return an item. The store notes that this policy is not new, but it may also start testing online refund fees in some European markets.
Zara earlier this year start charging $3.95 for online returns, although it does not charge a fee when consumers return online purchases to a brick-and-mortar location.
“We’ve gotten used to these overly lengthy return policies” during the pandemic, says Shamiss. “None of those exist anymore.”