Why $62 billion In Apparel & Footwear Purchases Are Returned By Consumers

If it doesn’t fit …

As footwear-and-apparel brands and retailers continue to seek out strategies to boost their business in a challenging environment, one factor hitting their margins could be customer returns of ill-fitting merchandise.

The latest study by New York-based 3-D body modeling company Body Labs has found that $62.4 billion worth of apparel and footwear is returned every year due to incorrect fit. That works out to about 57 percent of footwear and 64 percent of apparel purchases, according to the study.

In April, Body Labs said it surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,130 people regarding their retail purchasing behaviors. The results suggest that inconsistency in clothing and footwear sizes across brands could be costing companies a lot of money and creating a sizeable hurdle for their e-commerce businesses.

Case in point: 72 percent of respondents said they would purchase at least one or two more pairs of shoes during a single transaction if they could ensure a proper fit. The number was even great for clothing: 85 percent of respondents indicated that they would purchase at least one or two more articles of clothing during a single transaction if they could ensure a proper fit.

Further, the study found that if fit were not a concern, 51 percent of respondents would purchase footwear more often both online and in-store — 58 percent would purchase clothing more frequently.

While more and more consumers are opting to make online purchases these days, the inability to try things on presents a problem for both customers and brands using the online channel. In fact, survey participants said they returned 20 percent of all online footwear purchases, compared to 13 percent in-store.

Once consumers are aware of their size and find consistency with a particular brand, some challenges can dissipate and brands may be able to score long-term clientele.

According to the survey, 57 percent of consumers only purchase apparel or footwear online from brands or styles they know will fit.

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