A survey by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail published earlier this year found retailers expected more than $761 billion in goods sold in 2021 would be returned by customers — that accounts for about 16.6% of all retail sales in 2021, per the survey. For every $1 billion in sales, a retailer spends about $166 million on returns.
Some retailers, like Zara and H&M, are experimenting with charging customers to return some items to offset the costs associated with returns. Other retailers like JCPenney, Abercrombie & Fitch and J.Crew also impose a fee on returns, Insider reported. Shoe retailer DSW charges for returns unless shoppers are part of the highest tier of its loyalty rewards program, according to the report.
The concept for consumers is not entirely new. Amazon customers can bring their returns unboxed and unlabeled to a UPS store to return them. Shoppers can also have UPS pick the item up from their house, though those items need to be boxed, according to CNET.