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Clothing returns rates rise as Omicron concerns impact party season

Fashion brands and retailers have seen a 48.4% increase in returns in the last three weeks compared to the previous three weeks, as Christmas parties are cancelled in the light of the Omicron variant spread.

The figures, from Rebound, show that in the first week of December when the government first muted the reintroduction of restrictions, the rate of returns of formal wear hit 51%.

The volume of formal wear returns has continued to rise over the past three weeks and return rates for formal wear are now 40% higher than this time last year.

The data also shows that shoppers are returning their unwanted goods on average five days faster than they did before the pandemic.

Graham Best, CEO of Rebound, said: “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.”

Latest warnings about social mixing and possible further restrictions could mean that returns rates rise further still.

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