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Americans expected to return up to $170Bn in holiday gifts

(NewsNation) — The party’s over, the cakes, cookies and candies have been gobbled and now comes the question: what to do with the gift you received but really didn’t want?

According to marketing data firm Inmar, about one-third of retailers are expecting to see between 11% to 20% of the items they sold this holiday season returned. Some estimates put the dollar figure for all of those returned gifts at roughly $170 billion.

Chanda Torrey of Gifter World says she tries to curate gift lists on her website so you’re able to find the perfect presents for even the pickiest people. But if a return is a must, she suggests reading the fine print.

“It’s important. Some places have like a month, some places say three weeks, some places say six months, and they’re all different,” Torrey said. “So, make sure you know what the time difference is.”

With 33% of stores reporting an increase in holiday sales, returns will rise too. That’s where the company Newmine comes in.

CEO Navjit Bhasin explained how artificial intelligence helps retailers cut down on returns. Eliminating merchandise mistakes like sending a black garment instead of a much-wanted, rose-colored item makes for a return and a loss in brand loyalty.

“The best return is the one but it does not have to happen,” Bhasin said. “The moment a consumer like you and I decide we’re going to return this product, the margin is gone. And then the retailers struggle to say, ‘Hey, how do I cost efficiently get the product back into my supply chain? How do I refurbish it? How do I dispose of it?’”

Retailers estimate 10% of all returns are fraudulent, with the No. 1 fraud being wardrobing: the return of used, non-defective merchandise.

Still, many never return gifts even if they don’t like them.

“I am not a big fan of returning,” Torrey said. “In fact, I have bought shoes, got home and discovered that I had two left shoes and was too embarrassed to return them and I’ve done that twice.”

A recent survey of retailers found six in 10 will have stricter return policies this year.

Bhasin suggests considering the environmental impacts of ordering multiple sizes and returning those that don’t fit. Instead, contact online retailers and ask more questions about sizing, colors and product details to make a better purchase.