Retail return rates skyrocket

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The holiday shopping season started out strong, but customers are already returning items at a higher than usual rate.

Return rates spiked when the Great Recession struck and have stayed high. For every dollar stores take in this holiday season, they’ll have to give back 9.9 cents in returns, up from 9.8 last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey of 110 retailers. In better economic times, it’s about 7 cents.
This time of year, fractions of a penny add up. Stores are expected to ring up $453 billion during the holiday season. Merchants make up to 40 percent of their annual sales in the last two months of the year.
Returns are typically associated more with January than December. After all, that hot pink sweater with yellow stars on the sleeves may not be exactly what your sister had in mind. But these days, more is going back before it ever gets to Santa’s sack.
“When the bills come in and the money isn’t there, you have to return,” says Jennifer Kersten, 33, of Miami. She spent $300 the day after Thanksgiving on books, movies and clothes for her nephews. Last week she returned half of it.

Read more at The Register-Guard.

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