Marketing Report
[eMarketer] Swelling returns force retailers to rethink the shopping experience

[eMarketer] Swelling returns force retailers to rethink the shopping experience

US consumers are on track to return more than $761 billion in goods purchased in 2021, per a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail.

This accounts for an average of 16.6% of total US retail sales in 2021, an increase of 6 percentage points from 2020.

On average, online sales had a 20.8% return rate, which the NRF reports is “in line with recent years.”

Apparel had the second-highest return rate (12.2%), per the NRF and Appriss survey. It’s not surprising that ecommerce return rates are high, especially for clothing, since buyers tend to purchase multiple sizes of the same item.

Auto parts had the highest return rate (19.4%), while home improvement and houseware merchandise each saw an 11.5% return rate.

The survey also highlights how costly returns are for merchants: For every $1 billion in sales, retailers see $166 million in returns, on average. On top of that, for every $100 of returned merchandise, they lose $10.30 to fraud.

eMarketer says, as the rate of returns increases, retailers are struggling to decide what to do with unwanted items. While the most obvious solution is to put them back into circulation, the process of reverse logistics (moving goods from the consumer back to the retailer or manufacturer) is complex and expensive—not to mention that some returned items are not fit to be resold.

Read the full eMarketer article here