Think that your Grandma will adore the new Miss Me jeans you picked out for her? Think again. Clothes and shoes are the gifts that are returned the most often after the holiday season.

According to a recent MarketTools study from, apparel accounted for 62 percent of returned gifts last Christmas. Other presents that customers also brought back (but far less frequently) were:

  • Toys and games (16 percent)
  • Electronics (14 percent)
  • Kitchen and bath products (13 percent)
  • Cosmetics and beauty products (10 percent)
  • Jewelry and watches (10 percent)

All of those returns wreak havoc on retailers' bottom lines. Data from the National Retail Federation shows that, thanks to returned merchandise, stores will lose about 9.9 cents for every dollar's worth of stuff they sell -- up from about 7 cents per dollar in years past. Stores are expected to take in about $469 billion during the holiday season, which means that they'll be losing about $46.4 billion when customers want their money back.

And this year is shaping up to be even worse than before.

"This is going to be a record year for returns," Bill Angrick, CEO of auction house Liquidity Services, told the Associated Press. "People are still reluctant to spend." He said that his four U.S. warehouses are filled with returned electronics that they're waiting to auction off, and that return rates are about double what they were when the economy was good a few years ago. So id you are headed out the door to return gifts you might want to set aside extra time to stand in line at the customer service desk.


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