‘Wardrobing’ is costing retailers £1.5bn per year

UK retailers are losing up to £1.5bn potential sales because dishonest customers are returning products after using them, according to new research from Checkpoint Systems, the global source-to-shopper solutions provider. 

“Wardrobing” is a growing phenomenon as more shoppers buy clothes, shoes and other items with the intention of using or wearing them before returning them to the retailer. 

One in five ‘wardrobe’

The study of 1,542 shoppers found that a fifth (22%) buy items with the intention of using and returning them. This rises to 43% of 16-24-year olds and 39% of 25-34-year-olds, compared to just 6% of over 55-year-olds, with retailers suspecting that social media is influencing the younger generation’s wardrobing habit.

The research revealed that consumers purchase four items per year that they plan to use and return for a refund, with each item costing on average £40.95. 

Clothing is the most ‘wardrobed’ item, followed by electronics and then shoes. And stores that fail to act against wardrobing could be the target of repeat offenders; more than a quarter of shoppers said they’d return to a store if they got away with using and returning items.

Preventing wardrobing

However, a simple solution could halve the cost of wardrobing for apparel retailers: the survey revealed that anti-tamper devices would deter 45% of ‘wardrobers’, rising to 54% of the worst offending 16-24-year-olds and 50% of 25-34-year-olds.

Earlier this year Checkpoint Systems announced the European launch of its next-generation R-Turn Tag solution to address wardrobing without putting off legitimate customers. The tag can be personalised with a retailer’s branding, logo, colours and messages for added shelf appeal, and enables retailers to reduce the number of fraudulent returns by remaining in place until the customer removes it at home.

Irene Fernandez Camin, Europe Business Development Manager at Checkpoint Systems commented: “Wardrobing comes up increasingly regularly in our conversations with retail customers and this research really underlines how prevalent it is. However, there are simple measures retailers can take to drastically reduce fraudulent returns and send a message to dishonest customers that they are not an easy target. 

“Retailers need to recognise that wardrobing is a huge problem – as this survey clearly indicates - and find the right solutions to protect their merchandise and ensure their stock is available for purchase by the majority of honest consumers, which is why effective tagging is essential. Retailers can amend their policies to state that returns are only accepted with devices like Checkpoint’s R-Turn Tag still in place, complete with attached instruction. This solution minimises fraudulent returns, without impacting the customer experience.

“The R-Turn tag can be placed anywhere on garments, including the seam, to act as a visual deterrent for wardrobers, and is easy to use for customers and retailers alike: retailers can apply the tag at source to ensure precise placement, or in store, using a vertical application that does not snag or mark the fabric. Customers can safely remove the tag at home with a few simple twists because the innovative locking mechanism means they never come into contact with the tag’s pin.”

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