After You Return Something To A Store, Where Does It Go?

When you bring a piece of clothing back to the store because it’s defefctive or used or you just didn’t like it, where does it go? “Away” isn’t the answer: billions of dollars’ worth of items get returned to stores every year, and not all of them are fit to go back on the shelf. At retailers like Nordstrom, Costco, or L.L. Bean that have famously generous return policies, where does all of that returned stuff end up?

Racked polled a few retailers, and found varying answers. Target sends some of its returned and unsold merchandise to Goodwill thrift stores, as any Goodwill shopper can tell you.

Other retailers weren’t about to give a straight answer to the question, but make deals with liquidators or stores that sell salvage goods. During the holiday frenzy, retailers let returned items accumulate, but usually they end up going somewhere. For some items, manufacturers accept returned or unsold items back for credit.

Of course, there’s another option: the items end up back on the shelves. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing in some cases, but for other merchandise its somewhere between “icky” and illegal. Specifically: underwear. Last week, an NBC investigation showed employees from Victoria’s Secret, Walmart, and Marshalls putting returned underpants back on store shelves, something that’s usually against store policies. (Warning: auto-play video)

The $270 Billion Cost of Store Returns [Racked]

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