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Shoppers to Return over 16% of Retail Sales, Some Fraudulently

National Retail Federation
Shoppers to Return over 16% of Retail Sales, Some Fraudulently

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.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “Shoppers to Return over 16% of Retail Sales, Some Fraudulently”

  1. I don’t tolerate any of that Returning nonsense.
    That’s the advantage of having my own website.
    I don’t take PayPal either.

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