As the New Year begins, so does the Big Comeback – not just for work, but for retail.
Every year, unwanted gifts and clothes that don’t fit are returned in stores by the millions – and it affects retailers’ bottom lines.
A Times survey showed that one in three fashion items bought online are now returned – double the rate for clothes bought in stores.
The return figure can be as high as 50% for some women’s clothing, especially since there is a culture among young women to order clothes to simply pose for photos for social media before returning them.
Returns are often free to consumers, but cost retailers an average of £ 20 per item. The process results in a 30% loss of profits, costing UK retailers £ 7bn per year and inevitably pushing up prices for buyers.
In warehouses across the country, packages must be opened, checked for damage, then steamed, repackaged, and resold. If they don’t make it back to the shelves quickly enough, seasonal items end up being heavily discounted, sold off abroad or, in the worst case, even incinerated.
While returns are inevitable any time of the year, especially after Christmas, retailers are working hard to keep the numbers down. Some are starting to charge for returns – to deter excessive orders and also to help reduce the high cost of processing returns.
Many retailers are now including a model’s size and the size they are wearing in pictures online, so customers can get a feel for how they would fit. Retailers also analyze the data to spot products that have a particularly high return rate.
Marks & Spencer is one of the companies that will contact customers who return a large number of items, while Asos says it will block repeat offenders altogether.
Punchline said, “We all have unwanted gifts or clothing that doesn’t fit us every once in a while, but the persistent returns hit businesses hard and drive up prices. They also have a big environmental impact due to the weather. packaging and transportation. It is important that we all think more carefully about our purchases and do our part to reverse this disturbing trend. “