Burning question: Want a gift receipt with that?

Filed under: Retail |

Store employees are dreaming about the phrase, and gift recipients will be searching their presents for the square piece of paper known as the gift receipt.

The value of the gift receipt has increased as retailers have revamped their return policies.

The fourth annual Returns survey, conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch, found that 56.9 percent of holiday gift givers enclose either a gift receipt or an original receipt with a gift most or some of the time, up from 49 percent in 2005.

“It has become common practice for store employees to automatically ask shoppers if they would like a gift receipt with their purchase,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Gift receipts not only simplify the return process for the consumer, but they also allow the retailer to verify that the merchandise was purchased in their store.”

With at least one in three consumers (37.6 percent) planning to return at least some gifts this holiday season, retailers should be pleased that 88.2 percent found stores’ return policies to be fair.

NRF offers the following tips for stress-free returns after the holidays:

  • Know the retailer’s return policy before you buy. If you do not see the policies displayed make sure to ask a sales associate.
  • Save and file all receipts. Many retailers will allow consumers to exchange merchandise without a receipt. However, without a receipt, a retailer might only provide merchandise credit for the lowest markdown-price at which the item was sold during the past 30 days.
  • Provide all original packaging and all parts (including all tags) when giving a gift. Some retailers won’t accept returns unless the item is in its original package.
  • Ask for a gift receipt to make gift returns easier. These receipts contain all the necessary information to prove the items were purchased, minus the price.
  • Make your online returns easy. Before you purchase a gift online, know the process. Who pays for shipping the return, you or the merchant? Some merchants will pick up the delivery charges for exchanges, but not for returns. And know where to make returns. Does the retailer have a physical store, and can returns or exchanges be made there? Make sure you have the correct address if you need to mail returns to the company. Some merchants have off-site service centers that handle returns and they might be in a different location.

’07 restaurant predictions

With a new year soon approaching, the restaurant industry makes its annual predictions, forecasting a significant sales increase for 2007.

According to the Colorado Restaurant Association, sales are expected to top $8 billion in 2007 — a 6.4 percent increase compared to 2006. The forecast is 1.4 percent higher than the 5 percent average for the rest of the nation, according to figures compiled by the National Restaurant Association.

Total restaurant sales in Colorado are expected to reach $8.04 billion in 2007, up from $7.56 billion in 2006. Total restaurant sales nationally are projected to be $537 billion.

“Eight billion dollars in sales equates to $22 million a day in consumer spending — a significant increase over the $20.7 million per day that Coloradoans and visitors spent in 2006,” said Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the 4,500-member Colorado Restaurant Association, which represents more than 9,500 restaurant statewide. “From its dual-income families to its tourism industry, Colorado is clearly a dine-out state. Coloradoans will spend nearly half of their food dollar in restaurants.”

The restaurant industry’s trickle-down effect on Colorado’s economy reaches far beyond the $22 million pumped daily into the economy.

“Every $1 spent dining out generates $2.13 in sales in other industries,” Meersman said. “Colorado’s restaurant industry does, however, face some challenges in the New Year, such as higher energy, food and labor costs.”

Colorado is expected to rank No. 6 among states for sales growth, according to the National Restaurant Association. States ranking higher than Colorado are Nevada (8.1 percent), Arizona (7.6 percent), Florida (7.1 percent), Texas (6.9 percent) and Idaho (6.5 percent).

With a 6.7 percent growth rate, the mountain region is again leading restaurant growth among the nine U.S. Census Bureau regions, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Noodles & Co. opens 3rd site

Noodles & Co. is expanding its presence in the Springs. The company is opening its third location at 5844 Barnes Road.

The restaurant features Asian, Mediterranean and American cuisine.

Chain stores set strong pace

U.S. chain stores showed a 1 percent increase in sales during the week ending Dec. 9, according to International Council of Shopping Center’s index. Sales grew by 3.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.

The increase bodes well for the remainder of the season, as procrastinating shoppers should ensure a strong finale, said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research.

“Over this past week, consumers picked up their holiday shopping pace based on very busy consumer traffic,” Niemira said. “However, since consumers are still behind on their completion of holiday shopping compared with the same time of last year; we anticipate a very hectic finish to the holiday shopping season and once again, the holiday season will come down to the strength of the last-minute buying.”

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.