The report breaks down consumer returns in the U.S. for 2018.

Nearly $369 billion in returns are impacting the U.S. retail industry, not including the cost of overhead, and some of that return allotment is by way of fraudulent activity.

The report by Appriss Retail, artificial intelligence-fueled retail performance improvement solutions provider, analyzes the results of the National Retail Federation’s 2018 Organized Retail Crime survey. Indicating an overall value of $369 billion in returned merchandise in the past year in the U.S., $18 billion to $24 billion of that sum were fraudulent returns.

Buy online and return in-store is one dominant method, which is undercutting retailers with a 38 percent increase in online purchases returned to brick-and-mortar locations. Otherwise known as “return fraud,” retailers aren’t the sole victim — as the report indicates, American workers are subject to return fraud and abuse costs with an estimated 607,400 and 789,600 jobs expended as a result. Detailing job loss as well as losses in sales taxes, the report includes a state-by-state breakdown for further analysis.

Inundated with choice and privy to online shopping, consumers expect the right to change their minds, leading to the upswing in returned goods. The aim of this report is to highlight how retailers can view returns as a “customer service moment that it can be,” according to Krishnan Sastry, president of Appriss Retail.

With reframing returns as a moment of redemption, retailers can have “lasting impact on its relationship with the consumer.”

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