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“Wardrobing” is costing UK retailers more than £800m a year.

Some 13% of 2,000 consumers surveyed admitted to “wardrobing” – purchasing an item to wear once before returning it for a full refund.

Rebound, which conducted the survey, said: “Some retailers have started following Amazon in banning customers found to be repeatedly returning items.”

Fashion has generally struggled to conduct returns efficiently, UK retailers collectively spending around £6.6bn a year for these services.

And “wardrobing” is seen by 62% of retailers as having a “significant” impact on their costs, 23% saying it was “very significant”.

Consumers aged 25-34 are most likely to “wardrobe”, with 21% admitting to it, compared with just 6% of those polled aged over 45.

Director of data innovation at Rebound Vicky Brock suggested a data-driven policy was the best approach for retailers.

“It’s tempting, but banning shoppers for repeatedly returning items overlooks that customer’s lifetime value,” she said. “An effective returns strategy requires a nuanced, data-driven approach, which will highlight customers who ‘wardrobe’ but keep more than they return.

“By banning repeat returners, retailers risk alienating shoppers who spend far more than they claim in refunds.”

Worldwide Business Research notes that returns is major hurdle for retailers around the world, with up to 30% of all types of goods ordered sent back.

But the fickle world of fashion appears to be hardest hit, with as much as half of all fashion-related products being returned, equating to $260bn worth of stock in the US alone.

Furthermore, the US National Retail Federation says up to 95% of items that are returned are never resold, resulting in a third of all goods returned ending up in landfill.

Marketplace delivery director at Mercado Libre Leandro Bassoi said: “I am quite sure this could be improved by technology; for instance, the sizes of clothes are not standardised, so there are more returns. Technology could deal with that, and there are other ways, which logistics companies could support.”

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