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US Retail Ecommerce Returns 2023

How Retailers Can Reduce Costs While Retaining Customers

About This Report
Generous returns policies have encouraged shoppers to buy online, but an unsustainable wave of returned goods is forcing retailers to rethink their strategies.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Retail returns surged over the past three years, far outpacing the unprecedented growth in ecommerce sales. As retailers struggle for profitability amid ongoing economic uncertainty, they must manage the costs of returns without losing customers.

Key Question: How can retailers limit their ecommerce return costs while still meeting consumer expectations?

KEY STAT: Overall retail return rates will grow just 2.2% this year, following rapid growth during the height of the pandemic. But ecommerce returns will stay above pre-pandemic levels throughout our forecast period.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

3expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Returns surged during the pandemic-fueled ecommerce boom, but some relief is in sight.
    3. Online purchases will account for a growing share of total US retail returns.
    4. Apparel and accessories lift overall return rates for ecommerce.
    5. Problems with size, color, and fit drive online returns.
    6. Bracketing is on the rise, especially among younger shoppers.
    1. The use of third-party drop-off locations for returns is growing.
    2. Consumers prioritize free returns above all else.
    3. Consumers are willing to pay for convenient returns.
    4. Physical locations offer incentives for in-person returns.
    5. Shipping costs are the top challenge for retailers.
    6. Rising returns fraud is adding to retailers’ costs.
    1. What should retailers do to reduce and manage ecommerce returns?
    2. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    3. Sources
    4. Media Gallery

    Interviewed for This Report

    Aaron Begner
    General Manager, EMEA
    Interviewed January 30, 2023
    Thomas Borders
    Inmar Intelligence
    Vice President and General Manager
    Interviewed January 19, 2023
    Tobias Buxhoidt
    Founder and CEO
    Interviewed January 17, 2023
    About This Report
    Generous returns policies have encouraged shoppers to buy online, but an unsustainable wave of returned goods is forcing retailers to rethink their strategies.
    Table of Contents


    Sky Canaves


    Suzy Davidkhanian
    Principal Analyst, Retail & Ecommerce
    Blake Droesch
    Wendy Louie-Lam
    Senior Forecasting Analyst
    Amy Rotondo
    Director, US Research
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