Retail Returns Statistics

(Updated February 2021) 

Returns are costing retailers more and more each year. The increasing return rate is mostly due to the increase of e-commerce and online sales, which continues to grow globally year after year. 

Quick Statistics

  • US retailers had a lost sales amount of $309 billion from total merchandise returns in 2019
  • US retailers had $4.038 trillion in sales in 2020, and 10.6% of that was lost due to returns, totalling $428 billion
  • Retail merchandise returned in 2020 was 10.6% of total retail sales
  • Shoppers return purchases made online 8 times more than purchases made in store.
  • On average, 5-10% of purchases made in store are returned, while purchases made online are returned at a rate as high as 40%
  • Clothes and shoes bought online have the highest rates of return - anywhere from 30-40% return rate since fit is highly important
  • 14% of US sales are made online - $565 Billion for 2020
  • $102 Billion of merchandise from online sales was returned (average of 18.1%)
  • Return fraud causes Retailers to lose $5.90 for every $100 in returned merchandise 
  • In 2020, fraudulent returns accounted for 5.9% of total returns - costing retailers $25.3 billion 

Customer Returns Statistics:

What percentage of online purchases are returned?

Looking at the rate of product returns varies from brick-and-mortar stores vs. the rate from online retailers. A product return rate analysis shows that physical stores experienced a return rate of 5-10%, while online sales account for a return rate of anywhere between 25-40%. 

How much do returns cost retailers?

In 2019, returns cost retailers $309 billion in lost sales and in 2020, it cost $428 billion. This includes data from physical and online retailers. 

What is the average return rate in retail?

Consumer returns statistics show that 5-10% is the average return rate for in person stores, while online stores can have a return rate as high as 40%

What is the cost of returns to online retailers?

Online retailers have a much higher rate of return than brick and mortar stores. Returns cost online retailers $102 billion in merchandise in 2020. 

What is the most returned item?

Clothing and apparel are the most returned items. Style and fit are highly personal and important for clothing and shoes. Online consumers will often purchase multiple copies of a garment in different sizes to determine the correct fit and return the rest. 

What percentage of clothes bought online are returned? 

Around 30-40% of clothes that are bought online are returned. Some reasons for returns include the item looks different than online and ordering multiple of the same items in different sizes to determine correct fit and size.

Retail Returns statistics

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