The grim consequences of seasonal shopping are upon us. An expected flood of Christmas returns and January sale items begin to re-enter retail warehouses around the world as unwanted gifts pack mail vans and customer complaints hit email inboxes. emails.
Thought to cost businesses around £7billion a year, returns also weigh heavily on the carbon footprint of retail, with factors such as transport, storage and disposal reducing profits and increasing the delivery mileage as well as the potential number of items reaching the landfill.
Reprocessing items is a costly task and the Guardian recently reported that around 15% of electrical appliances are thrown away after being purchased online because they are either too expensive to repair or beyond repair.
Additionally, retailers are discouraged by other expenses such as the need to erase data from returned technology and repackaging items for resale. It’s a sad situation, that many intact and perfectly good items will never be resold or used.
Adam Pye, MD at John Pye, the UK’s leading auctioneers, recommends auctioning as an alternative way to make a profit and end waste returns from landfills by encouraging sellers to create methods of sale flyers.
The company has sold over 16 million items including ex-displays, excess stock and 2021 return stock from hundreds of major UK retailers with daily auctions, including lots from all top brands such as Apple, Samsung Panasonic, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Lego, The North Face, Adidas, Dyson, Bosch and more.
“Up to 70% of our stock is returned goods, many with minor imperfections and ranging from everything from white goods, including expensive dishwashers and washing machines, to high-end technology such as the latest game consoles and smart devices.
“As an industry we are under immense pressure to drastically reduce our carbon output and although returns can be costly, with the right partner and the right process, retailers need to be confident that they can and should resell many returned products.”
Take back control with resale
Less than half of returned goods are relisted, yet the number of consumers considering sustainable shopping methods has increased. Ironically, many consumers looking to be more environmentally friendly still don’t understand the total carbon footprint that a single order can have on our environment – let alone a returned order.
Adam added: “It’s time to take control. We know that businesses are often put off by the expense and effort required to clean or erase data from returned inventory – for them, it’s just not worth it. At auction, however, we work on a commission basis on the resale of stock and handle the rest for free, making it easier to dispose of potential waste to landfill.
“We also sell pallets of goods – often where customers find their best bargains. Those who are more enterprising go further by reselling these goods on other auction platforms like eBay or at garage sales.
Recent data shows 32% of consumers are very committed to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, proving that sustainability is still a top priority for 2022.
“There is still much-needed education for retailers and consumers about the return footprint of their purchases,” Adam said.
“Customers need to understand the effect their unwanted products have on our planet, and also need to be aware of ways to purchase many new and unused items from used sellers.
“Auctions are an economically sound way to shop. Savvy spenders can get huge discounts on returned designer goods, high-end electrical appliances and old display furniture at auctions – often simply because they don’t look “brand new” anymore.
“Sometimes it’s the perception that counts. Although something may appear second-hand from the appearance of its packaging, items sold at auction are often completely unused. Buyers really shouldn’t be put off getting a bargain because of the packaging.
At John Pye, a 13.3-inch 2020 Apple Macbook Pro retailed for £1,500 sold for just £695.00, more than half the price of its original RRP. For those looking for a bargain, turn your eyes to auctions this year.