Younger Shoppers Buy Online but Prefer to Return In-Store

More than half say in-store returns are easier

Author: Monica Melton

June 8, 2017

More than half of online shoppers in their 20s think it’s easier to return items in store, a new survey found. Older shoppers don’t necessarily see it that way.

A report by Narvar, a company focusing on online customer service, found that 55% of 21- to 29-year-olds surveyed considered in-store returns the easier option over other return methods.

By contrast, among those 30-44, only 46% felt that way. The older the shoppers, the less likely they were to consider in-store returns easier.

Millennials don’t relish returns in general, Narvar found. Some 60% said they had kept items they disliked to avoid dealing with the hassle of returning them.

The study focused specifically on returns of digital purchases, but it’s hard to discern why millennials would necessarily see in-store returns more favorably than older generations. They are more likely to be digital shoppers and buyers than older groups, so it would stand to reason that they would have no particular desire to visit a physical store to return a purchase.

Whatever the reason for the different attitudes among ages, other data has suggested that many consumers favor physical stores when it comes to returns and exchanges. A recent study by market research firm TrendSource found that wide majorities—some as large as 95%--considered in-store returns and exchanges superior.

The Narvar study found that 51% of all respondents said returning a package, which can involve printing a company-issued label and scheduling a pick up or drop off to a post office, is simply too much trouble. And more than a third said the process took longer than expected.

The study also uncovered consumer anxiety about the actual refund. More than quarter of respondents said they “had to keep checking” to see if refunds came through.