Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

“Was there something wrong with this item?”

Photo

BRITAIN/You’ve been there before. The sales lady in the store skeptically fingers your return item, then gives you a withering look.

“Was there anything wrong with this item????” she asks dubiously, as you flounder to prove your innocence.

Return fraud is expected to cost retailers a whopping $3.68 billion this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a 34 percent jump over last year, spurring 11 percent of retailers to tighten their policies.

Bringing stolen merchandise to stores to demand a credit is the most common form of return fraud, according to the survey. Also high on the list is “wardrobing” — wearing a special occasion item, for example, and then returning it the day after the party.

Check Out Line: Retailers revamp return rules

Photo

Check out retailers changing their return policies.
 
More than half the retailers surveyed by the National Retail Federation say their return policies will be more lenient during the holidays than the rest of the year. 
 
Also, 11 percent of retailers said their return policies would be looser than last season.
 
In recent years, some retailers have made it harder to return items in order to combat fraud.
 
But with the Untied States in what many economists say is a recession, retailers are seeing an increase in returns as a percent of sales and are trying to be practical in their policies.
 
“Retailers seem to be finding a balance between providing good customer service to shoppers while preventing criminals from taking advantage of lenient policies,” said Joe LaRocca, NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention.
 
Also in the basket:
 
Wal-Mart profits from discounts
 
U.S. jobless claims highest in 7 years
 
Benetton 9-month net rises, sees 2008 up
 
The return of the interview suit (N.Y. Times)

(Reuters photo)

  •