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Black Friday or send-it-back Friday?

In Europe, Black Friday is predicted to break new records this year. Online retailers are looking out for even bigger sales than last year and are busy luring new customers with fantastic deals. But what about all the returns? Which probably need to be processed at the same time retailers are at the peak of the Christmas trading period…

Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, came over from the United States, but now has also become a popular shopping day in Europe. Especially, in the United Kingdom more and more retailers are embracing the fourth Friday of November. During this day, but also some days before, online and offline retailers stunt with huge discounts, promotions and other interesting offers for their customers.

In the UK, Black Friday was a big success last year, with retailers making 1.15 billion euros. Returns intelligence firm Clear Returns predicts UK retailers this year will sell products with a total value of 1.27 billion euros. Great news, you might say. But Clear Returns remarks this shopping day may result in 185 million euros worth of stock being returned over the crucial Christmas period.

Huge inventory challenges at a time you won’t want them
“There is a natural time delay between when shoppers purchase an item and when they send it back, meaning retailers will see an influx of Black Friday returns in mid-December – just as you hit peak Christmas trading – creating huge inventory management challenges at a time when all efforts are focused on fulfilling orders”, the company writes in its report. “And, as many retailers choose to extend their returns policy over this key seasonal trading period, the cost of festive returns can stretch well into January.”

Furthermore, Clear Returns calculates that around 230 million euros ‘stock on loan’ will re-enter the system as a result of Black Friday. “This means that although it has been returned by the customer, it either hasn’t arrived in the warehouse, or it hasn’t been processed yet, so is unavailable to buy.”

And that’s not all. If you add the returns from other promotions such as Cyber Monday and general early December shopping, it’s estimated a further 855 million euros of stock will be tied up in the returns loop by mid-December.

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