Shoppers will return 16.6% of their retail purchases from 2021, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), with some of the returns involving fraud.
The NRF and Appriss Retail released a report today that found retailers expect over $761 billion in merchandise sold last year to be returned by consumers. That accounts for an average of 16.6% of total U.S. retail sales, which soared to $4.583 trillion in 2021, according to the report.
The 2021 total rate of returns (16.6%) is up from 10.6% during 2020, but online returns in 2021 are in line with recent years at an average of 20.8%.
Online sales accounted for $1.050 trillion of total US retail sales last year. Approximately $218 billion of online purchases were returned, with $23.2 billion (10.6%) deemed fraudulent.
Putting a positive spin on the findings, NRF executive Mark Mathews said that while retailers have indicated that they are seeing an increase in items returned to stores and online, “the upside is that it also provides them with additional opportunities to connect further with customers and provide a positive experience.”
The categories with the highest return rates were similar to 2020 metrics: auto parts (19.4%), apparel (12.2%) and home improvement and housewares (tied at 11.5%). The most common types of payment used during the original purchase that led to a return were credit cards (22.78%), cash (12.69%) and debit cards (7.04%).
The survey of 57 retailers was conducted by NRF and Appriss Retail October 13 – November 15, 2021. Click here to view the full survey results, which includes the results of questions such as, “What were your plans to offer customers the option to make returns using 3rd party “no box,” “no label” providers to process your returns?” along with a chart summarizing returns and return fraud.