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Retailers Brace for Jump in Product Returns

Jan 26, 2022 9:28 AM   By Rapaport News
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More and more consumers are going back to stores in search of a refund — a trend that presents both a cost and an opportunity, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

US retailers expect to handle more than $761 billion in returns of items they sold during 2021, the trade organization said Tuesday. This accounts for just under 17% of the $4.58 trillion in retail sales the nation registered, and represents an increase from 2020’s figure of 11%.

This means that for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $166 million in returns. For every $100 of returns that companies accept, they lose $10.30 to return fraud, the federation added.

However, sellers must approach returns as a key part of their strategy: Customers are back inside the store, even if they’ve come to receive money rather than part with it, the federation pointed out.

“While retailers have indicated that they are seeing an increase in items returned to stores and online, the upside is that it also provides them with additional opportunities to connect further with customers and provide a positive experience,” said Mark Mathews, the NRF’s vice president of research development and industry analysis.

Online returns were roughly in line with recent years, equaling $218 billion, or 21% of total sales. Some $23.2 billion — about 11% — were deemed fraudulent, the NRF noted.

The NRF based the numbers on a survey of 57 retailers it conducted together with Appriss Retail in October and November 2021.

Image: The Westfield Southcenter shopping mall in Tukwila, Washington, July 2015. (Shutterstock)
Tags: Appriss Retail, Mark Mathews, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, retail, returns, US
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