‘Clothing is tough’: Retailers talk about holiday returns


Colwell's in Saint John sells both women's and men's clothing.

The holiday rush is over, fir trees have been kicked to the curb, and retailers are bracing for the inevitable surge of customers whose gifts didn’t quite hit the mark.

Saint John store owner Kate Thompson said that every year there’s one gift that outshines all others for returns. No matter how well you may know your loved ones, family, or friends, she said, clothing rules the returns.

“Clothing is tough,” said Thompson, who owns the Lordon boutique. “Unless they have given you their size and you know what they like.”

Thompson said the store was lucky for the amount of items coming back through its doors this week. After opening her new store on King Street after six years up the road at Silver Daisy Designs, she was happy to hang on to record sales. Those who brought back gifts, she said, were happy to swap them out with something else.


A customer chats with staff at the counter at Lordon. (Matthew Bingley)

Colwell’s men’s and women’s clothing stores in Brunswick Square said they experienced similar small numbers for returns this season. But the reasons were different for each.

Salesman Dan McGaghey said most of those shopping this season were already known to the store.

“We know our clientele very well,” said McGaghey, who was ready to correct any sizing problems with his regulars.

Where some buyers went wrong, he said, was trying too hard to change a person’s existing style.

It’s in those cases where McGaghey said he puts in the extra effort to save the sale with an exchange.

Colwell's (2)

Racks of women’s shoes and shirts on display at Colwell’s. (Matthew Bingley)

Downstairs at the women’s store, manager Heather Condren said most returns are the result of sizing issues.

“Sometimes they buy a little too small versus a little too large,” she said.

In those cases, Condren said, she deals with a lot of sheepish husbands and boyfriends on return day.

One major change in holiday shopping patterns, said Condren, is that women are requesting that men simply abandon clothing as gifts.

“Some women too say, ‘Oh, I don’t want him to buy for me because he always gets the size wrong,'” she said.

All three stores agree the best way to avoid any returns is to take the person you’re shopping for through the store before making the purchase. While it may take away the surprise, it guarantees a hit.

Thompson, of Lordon, said her store also offers a wish list to ensure shoppers are buying gifts in the correct styles and sizes.

[Source:-CBC news]