Online shoppers should consider a retailer’s return policy as return options change

Returns remain a costly headache for retailers. More retailers are now charging customers return fees to send back online orders, placing the expense of return shipping onto the customer. And only 21.2% of retail chains offer free return shipping. This is far less than the 45.7% of web-only merchants offering the option.

Retail chains often have the resources for physical store locations convenient to shoppers. 80.6% of Top 500 retail chains offered in-store returns in 2023. That’s up from 77.0% in 2022. Meanwhile, curbside returns did not change in 2022 at 3.6%.

Among Top 1000 retail chains, 78.8% offered the service in 2023, compared with 74.3% in 2022.

There was a more noticeable drop in curbside return availability. 2.8% of Top 1000 retail chains offered the service in 2023, down from 3.4% in 2022. The two categories that cut back on the service included specialty and sporting goods.

While many retailers are pulling back on curbside returns, Target plans to roll out a “Returns with Drive Up” program to its nearly 2,000 stores nationwide, according to a Target  spokesperson. The service will begin in Spring 2023 and is scheduled to be complete by the end of summer.

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