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The Fate of Returned Clothing??

adamm411

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What happens to returned merchandise? I am concerned about this because I heard a rumor (true or not I don't know) that some retailers simply destroy all returned merchandise. I heard this happens at some clothing stores, some bike stores, even electronics retailers. This seems like an enormous waste of materials. Is this material recycled or does it go to outlets or is it simply thrown away filling up a landfill?

In the past few months, I'd estimate I return about 15-20% of clothing items. Sometimes, I change my mind, or the item is not what I expected after I ordered it online, or whatnot. If clothing is simply thrown away, I'll be much more circumspect about what I buy.

Anyone work in retail clothing have any insight into this?

Adamm
 

drizzt3117

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Originally Posted by adamm411
What happens to returned merchandise? I am concerned about this because I heard a rumor (true or not I don't know) that some retailers simply destroy all returned merchandise. I heard this happens at some clothing stores, some bike stores, even electronics retailers. This seems like an enormous waste of materials. Is this material recycled or does it go to outlets or is it simply thrown away filling up a landfill?

In the past few months, I'd estimate I return about 15-20% of clothing items. Sometimes, I change my mind, or the item is not what I expected after I ordered it online, or whatnot. If clothing is simply thrown away, I'll be much more circumspect about what I buy.

Anyone work in retail clothing have any insight into this?

Adamm


Electronics that are returned are often resold as are clothes, but sometimes if they are damaged they are "devo" or destroyed/recycled for spare parts.
 

Jsoftz

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Working in electronics retail, I can say that one of three things usually happens to returned merchandise:

1. Resold - Unopened, resold for full ticket. Opened, usually resold for a discount.
2. RTV'ed - Returned to Vendor for either the full price or whatever their prorate is. If a product is opened it is most preferable to RTV the product, and it is only sold opened if we cannot RTV it.
3. Rarely it is field destroyed. Really, really rarely. It's usually small, inconsequential stuff when it is field destroyed, but I once saw a 52" Projection TV field destroyed.. it was a sad day for everyone.

That said I don't really know what happens to clothes, I imagine it is resold or sold to thrift stores or outlet stores or consignment or what have you. I doubt very much is simply destroyed.
 

DocHolliday

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I've gotten some great bargains on clothing that has been returned, usually after Christmas. Sometimes I can tell because the pricetag is missing the original price, and sometimes because a sold-out item suddenly shows back up. Picked up a lovely pair of gloves just the other day that appeared to have been an unwanted Christmas gift.

I have to say, though, that 20 percent seems like a lot of returning. Isn't that a hassle? Do stores ever give you grief?
 

adamm411

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Usually not. The employees from my sense are just doing their job, whether it's ringing up a purchase or a return. Interestingly, I read an article that stated that the return rate in the clothing industry is 36%! I would say unless you're returning half your purchases or more, it's probably not very unusual.

I hear what you are saying about buying discounted stuff that's clearly been returned. I bought an express shirt at Ross. It was steeply discounted at $10, but it was a bit wrinkled, missing its original tag: it was clearly a returned item. One wash later, it looks (almost) new. The price was so nice, I didn't mind getting the shirt pressed.

Adamm
 

CoryB

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I work in clothing retail, though lower rather than higher-end so there may be differences. Returned items are just resold. Being that the store produces its own clothing, tags can easily be re-created. I, even working there, can really only tell a return item from others quite rarely. The clues for me are: sold-out of the item and then it reappears; the tag is marked down, but not by hand; etc. Damaged or defective goods are given away to the Salvation Army.

If you were going to be worried about waste at stores, I would start with the amount of packaging. I've seen a single perfume bottle come wrapped in plastic wrapped in small box wrapped in a larger box. This 1x1x4 bottle came in about a 16x16x8 box.
 

amerikajinda

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Speaking of returned clothing making its way back onto the shelves, I've noticed more than once an article of clothing for sale at Marshall's or TJ Maxx that was definitely worn! I saw a white dress shirt with ring-around-the-collar... it didn't have any manufacturer's tags but it had a Marshall's tag. And I also saw some definitely OLD (as in, from the 80s or 70s) clothes at Marshall's for sale with a Marshall's tag. Now that I think about it -- maybe what happened is some dishonest person swapped what they were wearing with something on the shelves, then the Marshall's people found their old article of clothing and just slapped a Marshall's barcode/price tag on it. To me these clothes were obviously old and used and outdated, but maybe the Marshall's employee just didn't care or just wasn't that smart.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?
 

Vintage Gent

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Originally Posted by amerikajinda
Speaking of returned clothing making its way back onto the shelves, I've noticed more than once an article of clothing for sale at Marshall's or TJ Maxx that was definitely worn!

I recently saw a DB Corneliani suit at Marshalls whose trousers already had cuffs. Clearly a return at some point in the retail process.
 

VMan

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Originally Posted by amerikajinda
Speaking of returned clothing making its way back onto the shelves, I've noticed more than once an article of clothing for sale at Marshall's or TJ Maxx that was definitely worn! I saw a white dress shirt with ring-around-the-collar... it didn't have any manufacturer's tags but it had a Marshall's tag. And I also saw some definitely OLD (as in, from the 80s or 70s) clothes at Marshall's for sale with a Marshall's tag. Now that I think about it -- maybe what happened is some dishonest person swapped what they were wearing with something on the shelves, then the Marshall's people found their old article of clothing and just slapped a Marshall's barcode/price tag on it. To me these clothes were obviously old and used and outdated, but maybe the Marshall's employee just didn't care or just wasn't that smart.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?


Yeah, what you do is you discreetly take the tags off a bunch of items either in the store, or in a fitting room. Take the tags home with you, then use a cheap tagging gun and some plastic stems to attach the Marshalls tags to random items (either some used clothing that appears new, or a bunch of cheap $3-5 clearance items from Wal Mart or Kohls). Return the items without a receipt to get a gift card, then either spend it or sell the gift card on ebay for ~90% of face value.

Haven't done it, but have seen the same thing at my Marshalls (Faded Glory walmart-brand button up plaid shirts for $29.99, obviously worn older clothing for $19.99) and figured that's what people must be doing.
 

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