US shoppers are expected to send back a whopping $100 billion in unwanted presents purchased over the holiday season as retailers begin to struggle with this year’s record-breaking epidemic.
Retailers are set to see returns rise six per cent from last year according to Optoro, as the number of purchases over the holiday period is expected to have risen by around five per cent to roughly $1.1 trillion.
Online retailers are set to be worse hit, with one in three items purchased online due to be returned.
According to Forrester consultant and former Saks executive Sucharita Kodali, people are “using their homes as dressing rooms” and buying items in numerous colours and sizes, leading to about half of all womenswear typically being returned.
Kodali added that the huge number of returns are to blame for the lower profit margins of online retail, as goods that would otherwise be available to purchase are removed from inventories, lying in warehouses for weeks at a time.
Optoro’s ecommerce specialist Larisa Summers added that “very few companies” are equipped with the systems needed to deal with the “highly complex” challenge of reverse logistics at such volumes, meaning each returned product needs to be handled individually.
For items including both fashion and electronics this means that by the time they are returned to sale, newer ranges may already have been released.
This also leads to extortionate amounts of items going to landfill, some 5 billion lbs of returned goods, the equivalent of 5600 fully loaded 747 jets.