Retailers Brace for Bigger Holiday Returns Season

Shoppers may love ordering stuff online, but when it comes to returning that holiday sweater, many would rather drop it off at the store.

That consumer aversion to shipping back unwanted goods could give bricks-and-mortar retailers an edge in the post-holiday hangover even as online sales continue to soar.

Consumers are expected to return between $90 billion to $95 billion worth of merchandise purchased over the holidays, according to B-Stock Solutions, which runs online liquidation sites for major retailers. That is a projected jump of 15% to 20% over 2018, and e-commerce orders are likely to account for nearly half of this year’s volume.

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Many of those rejects will get dropped off at the sales counter as store owners refine their ability to handle consumer returns. For retailers, that can mean another crack at landing a sale.

“It’s a qualified customer walking in the door with what amounts to a gift card,” said Bryan Eshelman, a managing director in the retail practice at consultants AlixPartners LLP… The Wall Street Journal

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