Retailers are gearing up for the holiday shopping season as more gift-giving and holiday parties mean more returns
- Retailers incur $166 million in returns for every $1 billion in sales, NRF survey finds.
- Nearly half of Americans believe 'wardrobing' should be a 'serious illegal offense,' a new survey found.
As holiday shopping ramps up, retailers are preparing for the aftermath of gift-giving – returns.
For some retailers, this means relaxing return policies to give customers more time to return an item while others are tightening rules to charge customers for returning products.
In a September study of 2,000 adults, market research company OnePoll found that 46% of survey respondents believed the practice of returning clothes after you've worn them — or "wardrobing" — should be considered a "serious illegal offense."
Wardrobing may seem like a harmless way to recoup some quick cash, but research shows that less than half of all returned goods can be resold by companies at full-price. According to a 2021 study by the National Retail Federation, acts of return fraud like wardrobing amount to $12.6 billion in lost sales for retailers.
To combat this offense, shoppers of brands Zara, H&M, J. Crew, and Kohl's should expect to pay up if they want to return their clothes, Fox Business reports.
In September, H&M announced it would be testing return fees in its Norway stores while J. Crew already has implemented its $7.50 flat fee for online returns, according to the Fox report.
For Zara, a $3.95 fee should be expected if a customer chooses not to return items in person. Similarly, Abercrombie & Fitch charges $7 in the same instance.
According to the Fox report, Walmart has relaxed its return policies as holiday shopping gets underway. Certain purchases made on or after October 1 are eligible for return up until January 2023.
In a November press release, the NRF predicted that holiday shopping during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
According to an NRF survey, retailers incur $166 million in merchandise returns for every $1 billion in sales and lose over $10 to return fraud for every $100 of returned merchandise accepted.
Although a looming recession fuels the possibility of returns and wardrobing, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says Americans will find a way to shop this season.
"In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season," Shay said in the release.
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