Consumers to Return $816M Worth of Merchandise in 2022

According to the retail survey, for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns.

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Consumers are expected to return more than $816 billion worth of retail merchandise purchased in 2022, according to a report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Appriss Retail.

“Even with 29 continuous months of retail sales growth, consumers have remained steady with the overall rate of merchandise returned to retailers this year,” says Mark Mathews, NRF’s VP of research development and industry analysis. “While oftentimes returns represent a lost sale for a retail establishment, returns can also provide recourse through positive customer engagement, and potentially, another purchase.”

“The holidays typically include a spike in retail activity, but higher return rates can also impact profitability,” says Steve Prebble, CEO of Appriss Retail. “Retailers must look for ways to individualize the returns process through data-driven insights. This will minimize the risk of accepting fraudulent returns while enhancing the customer experience for loyal shoppers.”

From National Retail Federation (NRF):

  • As retail sales continue to grow, the average rate of return has remained flat at 16.5% compared with 16.6% in 2021.
  • According to the retail survey, for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns. Additionally, it found that for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.40 to return fraud.
  • Half (50%) of respondents cited returns of used, non-defective merchandise, also known as wardrobing, and 41.4% cited the return of shoplifted or stolen merchandise. One-fifth (20%) attributed return fraud to organized retail crime.
  • For the first time, online return rates are consistent with the overall rate of return. Online return rates decreased from 20.8% in 2021 to 16.5% in 2022. Online sales will account for approximately $1.29 trillion of total U.S. retail sales in 2022. Of the approximately $212 billion of returned online purchases, $22.8 billion (10.7%) will be deemed fraudulent.
  • Of the more than $3.66 trillion in expected in-store sales, $603 billion will be returned. Approximately $62.1 billion of those returns, or 10.3%, are expected to be fraudulent.
  • In terms of holiday sales, retailers can expect to see an average of 17.9% of merchandise returned, equating to nearly $171 billion.
  • NRF forecast that total retail sales will grow between 6-8% to more than $4.86 trillion in 2022.