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Germans returned 487 million items last year

Last year, about 280 million parcels in Germany returned to the online stores that shipped them. In total, there were 487 million items that went from online store to shopper and from shopper back to the online store.

This means that one in six parcels got returned, the University of Bamberg estimated. A return shipment costs on average 19.51 euros, of which half of it is meant to cover transport costs. Other costs go for example to the viewing and evaluation of returned items: only 4 percent of returned items end up in the garbage can.

Customers and retailers are affected by returns

“This results in an estimated cost of 5.46 billion euros, which on the one hand will be carried by customers through higher market prices and on the other hand they will burden the margins of online retailers”, Bj√∂rn Asdecker of research group Retourenmanagement says.

What happens with online returns in Germany

According to the study, 79 percent of the returned items are sold directly as A-Ware (products free of defects, sold with a full warranty), while 13 percent are sold as B-Ware (fully functional, offered at a special price and subject to regular warranty). Another 3 percent of return items are sold to industrial recyclers or donated to charities.

According to Asdecker, the online returns in Germany have a real impact on the climate, as they cost the same kilometers as 2200 car trips from Hamburg to Moscow every day or 238,000 tonnes of CO2 during last year.

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