US consumers will return around $90 billion worth of goods this holiday season, according to Optoro, a firm specialising in the business of return shipments, which make up around a quarter of the total value of goods returned each year. The amount has been growing steadily as consumers shift their shopping online, it added.
Commentators point out that both FedEx and UPS have been trying to capture a bigger share of the returns business as retailers look to service demanding shoppers looking for a generous and user-friendly return policy.
With e-commerce growing, returns continue to be a major challenge to retailers who face costly return rates. According to Trevor Outman, co-founder and president of Shipware, a consulting firm which deals with vendors trying to reduce shipping costs, return costs are among the top concerns of clients.
One way to cut costs, he recommends, is to reduce "dead space" in shipping boxes that might be too big for the item, which increases prices.
CNBC quoted Bruce Cohen, head, strategy and private equity for retail and consumer products at consulting firm Kurt Salmon, a unit of Accenture, "Being able to return is now a competitive tool. If it's a pain for customers to return items, they will go elsewhere."
The value of goods that US consumers return every year is estimated at $380 billion with $90 billion of returned during the holidays.
Companies however, say only half of returned goods end up on the shopping shelves.