Dec 22, 2023 - Economy

New clothes flood resale sites as free returns vanish

Illustration of a dress on a hanger with a dollar sign on top

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Free returns are vanishing, but people are still shipping them — to someone else.

Why it matters: More new clothes are hitting resale marketplaces as retailers tighten their return policies.

Driving the news: Items listed with the tags still attached jumped 16% in the year through November, according to data Poshmark shared with Axios.

  • Listings that include the phrase "final sale" are up 45%.

The big picture: Retailers are fed up with paying for and processing mailed returns, which surged during the pandemic when more people shopped online, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

By the numbers: Roughly 40% of retailers now charge return fees, according to research from retail technology company Narvar.

Between the lines: Unwanted luxury goods often end up on consignment sites.

  • The RealReal since 2019 has seen a 35% increase in consigned fashion items that are either in pristine condition or are new with tags, merchandising director Hillary O'Malley tells Axios.

What they're saying: Stricter rules have shoppers "exploring new ways to get their money back on purchases they've changed their mind about," says Chloe Baffert, head of merchandising and curation at Poshmark.

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