Online shopping surge means returns for retailers

A surge in online sales this holiday season is boosting expenses for some retailers as more shoppers return merchandise purchased with the click of a mouse.

Consumers are expected to return $62 billion in goods bought between November and December, up 8 percent from the same period last year, with about a third of those items purchased online, according to retail-research firm Customer Growth Partners. Online sales increased 20 percent this holiday season, according to figures from MasterCard Advisors.

While handling returns has been a costly part of retailing for decades, the problem is being exacerbated by more customers shopping online. Shoppers are expected to send back 30 percent of clothing and shoes bought online, twice the return rate of items purchased in a physical store, Customer Growth Partners has found.

That could put a damper on a better-than-expected holiday season. Sales increased 7.9 percent between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, excluding cars and gasoline, according to figures from MasterCard.

Read more from Bloomberg


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