Save the Fashion Industry  |  Fashion
Clothing Store Returns

Like many retail categories, clothing retailers typically offer options in regards to allowing product returns.  It is important for clothes and footwear stores to have such policies because garment fit is very important.  Often a consumer will try an item on at the store, but after returning home they discover that the shoe or clothes did not fit as well as they originally thought.  When this occurs, the consumer typically would like to return or exchange their purchase.

Often times apparel is bought as a gift for other people.  When the recipient recieves the gift, they may discover that the garment size, fabrication, or color is not per their liking.  In this case, they may wish to return the item for a more appropriate size, style, or color.

What is the difference between an exchange and a return?

Exchange - the consumer gives the store back merchandise in exchange for another item of equal value.  For example, if I bought a red t-shirt in size medium but realize that I have eaten too much and now fit into a size large.  I take the medium back to the store and they will exchange it for a size large (note: I should NOT do this with used shirts.  Only exchange a new shirt for a new shirt in a different size)

Return - when a consumer brings new clothing back to the store for a refund.

Before purchasing clothes, footwear, or accessories it is a good idea to learn about the stores return, refund and exchange policy.

  • Some stores require receipts, others do not.
  • Some stores have time limits, others do not (Example, you can return this product within 30 days of purchase).
  • Some stores offer a complete refund, and others charge a re-stocking fee.
  • Some stores offer no return, exchange, or refund options at all.
  • Some stores will only give you and in-store credit rather than return your money.
  • Their are many other options available to policy writers...

Most retailers strive for a quick, easy, and positive return experience because they understand that they should keep customer service in mind at all times.  They most certainly need to keep the customers thoughts as a high prioritiy while writing a return policy.

Each store will have their own guidelines in the event a purchase must be returned or exchanged.  It is important to understand the policy "prior" to making a purchase.

Fortunately for consumers, apparel retailers are competing for their business.  Most stores will do their best to maintain similar policies to one another.  For example, if John's boutique takes returns and Mary's boutique down the road does not, it is likely that John may benefit with a higher volume of sales.  However, he also may be saddled with additional expenses that are caused by the return process.

What do clothing stores do with the merchandise that is returned?

This would depend on the reason for the return.  If the product is still first quality, they may return the garment to the shelf or rack to be sold again.  If the item has been worn or it was returned due to some sort of damage or manufacturer defect, it may destroyed or sold off as closeout.  This can be done with the assistance of a apparel industry Jobber

If you would like to learn more about textile and clothing jobbers, you can read the jobber term for more information.


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