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Omicron hesitation sparks partywear returns

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

17 Dec 2021


Image: Pexels

Fashion brands and retailers have experienced a surge in returns in the last three weeks, according to data from returns platform ReBound, as concerns around the Omicron coronavirus variant cause people to change festive plans.

ReBound states that it has seen a 48.4 percent increase in returns from November 22 to December 12, compared to the previous three weeks. This coincides with recent announcements about Omicron and new governments coronavirus restrictions, such as working from home.

In the first week of December, when the government first muted the reintroduction of restrictions, the rate of returns of formalwear hit 51 percent, explains ReBound. The volume of formalwear returns has continued to rise over the past three weeks and is now 40 percent higher than this time last year.

Return rates on formal wear are normally higher than everyday wear as tight-fitting dresses or suits leave little room for error when it comes to sizing. There is also the consideration that, given the higher price point of formal wear, shoppers have even higher expectations and won’t hesitate to claim their refund if the item doesn’t quite fit the bill.

The data also shows that shoppers are returning their unwanted goods on average five days faster post-pandemic.

Graham Best, chief executive at ReBound, said in a statement: “Cancelled Christmas parties and concerns about the Omicron variant has driven fashion returns sky-high as shoppers send back clothing they’ll no longer be wearing out. Traditionally we see a rise in fashion returns at this time of year thanks to post-Black Friday buyers’ remorse but this is far beyond usual levels, particularly for formal wear purchases.

“The pandemic is clearly far from over and there could still be further ramifications for retail on the horizon that could impact how shoppers buy or return. Retailers should be getting out in front and ensuring their returns processes are data-driven in order to prepare and manage any sudden influx of returned items.”