26 December 2011

To request or to return...that is the question

Today is the third busiest retail day of the year. It's the day when we take back all the gifts that didn't fit, didn't work or just didn't strike our fancy. News reports suggest a record $46 billion worth of merchandise will be returned.

$46 billion.

I find that number a bit embarrassing.

Does it mean we're a nation of 300 million ingrates? Yes, I know sometimes gifts don't work or don't fit... but I have a feeling it's often down to the fact that we just don't like something that someone else thought we would and we feel entitled to have exactly what we want in a gift.

And I must not be alone in my ambivalence to returning gifts. Although holiday returns are now an expected part of the gift-giving, a survey by American Express found that nearly 60 percent of gift getters won't tell Great Aunt Milly the fate of the red popcorn sweater she gave them.

Of course, as my mother would say, if you'd given me a list, you wouldn't be standing in line. But I find making a list equally problematic. As a child, it was fun and exciting. As an adult, it seems selfish and more than a bit presumptuous.

What do you think? It is better to ask for what you want and need or to stay quiet knowing you can join the hordes returning gifts after Christmas?

1 comment:

LK Hunsaker said...

Oh, I can never make a list or ask for what I want, except maybe to my husband because he badgers me otherwise. I like the surprise of the thing.

I'm with you on the returns. I think it means people are just getting way more stuff than they really need and no longer appreciate it. I saw a huge line the other day and just shook my head (and felt sorry for the employees, since I've been there).