Retailers changing return policy with some now charging to return items

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Return policies have been changing, and it’s something you should watch for while shopping this year.

“Returns especially coming off the pandemic have really now become part of the shopping journey,” said shopping expert Shelley Kohan. “It's part of what shoppers do, especially shopping online. They're going to buy three items of something with the full intent of returning two.”

The most recent numbers available show the return rate was nearly 17 percent of total sales in 2021.

That's $761 billion in returned products.

The cost of returns for stores has always been high.

But now retail experts say they're also dealing with the effects of higher gas prices and UPS and FedEx raising their rates.

Because of this, a recent survey of retail executives shows around 60 percent say they're changing their return policies.

We're seeing this with charging for returns or attaching free returns to a loyalty program.

Retailers are also adding restocking fees or shortening the timeframe to make returns.

“Just know what that return policy is,” Kohan said. “It'd be very difficult to buy someone a gift, and then they're stuck with a restrictive return policy. So know what you're getting yourself into and know what's important to you.”

She expects to see some leeway on returns over the holidays.

But expects more restrictive return policies to start again going into next year.