Online shopping returns
With the New Year just days away and US shoppers hiding gifts under the tree, retailers are preparing for a record-breaking return of gifts bought online during the recent major coronavirus outbreak, writes Yahoo Finance.
If customers don't like their chosen gift for whatever reason, it can be returned, and to make it easier for customers to return their purchases and at the same time make the process more efficient, major retailers like Walmart and Target Corp are allowing customers to leave such gifts at FedEx or United Parcel Service drop-off locations.
Other retailers, including Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods and Nordstrom decided to innovate and allow items to be left right on the pavement, as shops are closed for quarantine and the number of customers in those still open is strictly limited.
For those shoppers who have switched from offline to online to avoid being infected with COVID-19 this year, the process of returning goods is a familiar affair. Return rates for goods bought online have historically been higher, with some reports suggesting a 5-8% return rate for clothing in shops and around 30% online.
Major shopping malls are also having to go out of their way to help customers: US-based Mall of America and Simon Property Group have partnered with Narvar, a return service provider, so shoppers don't have to print out labels to return packages they send in.
Meanwhile, the US National Retail Federation expects holiday sales in 2020 to increase by 5.2% year-on-year to $766.7 billion, with returns accounting for about 13% of merchandise or about $101 billion.
But the volume of returned gifts may be even higher than that, according to Optoro, which provides retailers with sorting, reselling and recycling services for returned goods.
But beyond the returns themselves, retailers have to take on the additional task of quarantining goods or disinfecting products after they are returned.
Also, one expert pointed out that when people shop online, they also buy additional items that they intend to return later.