What Happens To Internet Shopping Returns?

Update from BBC on 15th October 2021:


It is about bags brand Coach purposefully destroying returned goods.

You order a lovely dress from an internet shopping site but when it arrives it just doesn't fit how you expected. You wrap it up and queue up in the Post Office to return it. The company refunds you and they return it to stock...or do they?

If you have shopped with an independent boutique such as Kitty Brown, that is exactly what happens.

In the August 2020 edition of Boutique Magazine, it reported research showing that 42 percent of consumers believe returned goods are re-used or recycled. This is not the case. CBC Radio ran an article which revealed that Burberry admitted in 2018 that it had incinerated £90 million worth of clothing and accessories in the previous 5 years. Amazon France has faced pressure from the French government about it destroying thousands of unsold products.

Boutique Magazine quoted figures from Optereo that estimates that 5 billion pounds of waste is generated through returns every year. The BBC quoted the same report to say that only 20% of goods returned are defective. This means billions of pounds of new, useable goods are heading for landfill as a result of being returned to internet shopping companies.

What can be done?

If internet shopping is your thing, order from small boutiques and businesses who will re-stock any returns. Just make sure you remember to include any boxes and don't remove labels from items you do not intend to keep.

Try returning to your local High Street. If you try on a dress and decide against it when you are in a shop, it returns to stock (after a quarantine period and treatment against Covid-19) with lorries and vans pumping out diesel fumes...and without queuing in the Post Office.

Internet returns are costing the environment dearly. It does not even make short term economic sense. California based internet shopping company Revolve did $499 million in sales last year but spent $531 million on dealing with returns. This demonstrates that every returned item gives a reason for some companies to simply send perfect stock to the dump.

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