Even though returning a gift you don’t want is very convenient, it’s actually just another way of perpetuating environmental waste, not to mention the waste of millions of dollars.
America makes it extremely easy to buy stuff and then give it back, which is why in January millions of people will be returning their holiday presents for either a refund or an exchange.
In January 2018 alone, UPS reported that that by January 3, 2018, over 1.4 million packages had been returned to stores — an 8% increase over the previous year’s returns. These numbers will keep increasing as the years go by, all due to stores that advertise free return policies in order to appeal to more customers.
Despite the fact that the customer gets a full refund for the returned item, this process is more complicated than it seems, resulting in high costs for retailers that accumulated to an estimated $90 billion in 2017.
Once an item is returned, retailers have to make sure that it’s in prime condition and fit to be resold. If the item is brand new then it can be resold at full price. But if the item has some sort of damage, then it has to go to liquidators or discounters where it’ll be sold for half or less of the original selling price.
Best Life reports that between 30-40% of all returned holiday gifts end up thrown away due to return shipping and repackaging costs, which end up amounting to more than the original worth of the item. “If it’s a lower brand that’s not as well-known, and it’s clothing and $20 originally, it may be worth pennies on the dollar,” says Tobin Moore, CEO of Optoro, a company that specializes in return shipments.
Even though returning a gift you don’t want is very convenient, it’s actually just another way of perpetuating environmental waste, not to mention the waste of millions of dollars. You may think that a single returned item won’t amount to much, but you’re just a cog in a really big machine where all cogs have similar thoughts.
Next time you’re out there looking for presents, think before you shop and make sure that you want what you want. Or better yet, gift an experience instead of stuff.