Every year, 10% of all goods purchased in the US are returned – but have you ever wondered what types of products actually get returned most?

What are Consumers Returning?

We recently put out a Consumer Returns Report with insights from 1000+ surveyed online shoppers.We were interested to find out what consumers are sending back to retailers, so we asked survey participants to select the categories that they had returned within the last year. With the rise of eCommerce, thus buying goods sight unseen, we learned that clothes and accessories are being returned at a far higher rate than any other category. 75% of shoppers reported returning clothing and accessories, compared to only 12% of shoppers who had returned outdoor & sports gear.

Insights from Returns Statistics

  • Some goods, like beauty products (13%), and certain baby gear (such as car seats) are unable to be resold as new for safety reasons. Retailers that sell these items need to partner with reverse logistics vendors who have disposition channels beyond remarketing.
  • We were surprised to find that only 32% of participants had reported returning shoes, since that’s a large delta from the 75% of people who had returned clothing and accessories. Further, we know that many online retailers like Nordstrom, Amazon, and Zappos have generous return policies.
  • With 33% of shoppers returning electronics, it’s critical that retailers have in place an efficient and environmentally-sound returns process that leaves behind minimal harmful chemicals and toxins. A retailer’s best option is to use sophisticated, purpose-driven software that allows for the processing and restocking or reselling of goods without disrupting regular warehouse operations.

The data points provided by our survey participants are helpful in understanding both what is being processed through returns centers around the country, and the $260B annual volume of returns in the US. If you’re wondering what happens to items after they’re returned, you might be surprised to learn that only a fraction of returned items are placed back on shelves for resale by the retailer.

Interested in learning more about what happens to returns? Check out this post.