Some economists — citing interest rates, taxes and market cycles — think we are entering an era of underperformance.
A good portion never make it back to store shelves.
OffBeat owner Phillip Rollins says January and summer are his "most hated months" because business is so slow.
About 18% of all holiday sales are expected to be returned. That comes with costs to companies, consumers, and the climate.
Americans sent back $760 billion worth of stuff last year. Now higher shipping costs and rising returns are hurting companies' bottom lines.
Optoro, which manages returns for Target and Ikea, says consumers will send back $120 billion worth of goods this season.
Companies spend a lot of money processing those returns, and many items that are returned won't end up back on the shelf.
Even with access to private equity and hedge funds, investors won't get the same returns as their wealthier counterparts, a study indicates.
One challenge for those managing "reverse logistics"? Not enough room to store everything we want to send back, one study says.
Economists are adapting models and using social media to try to capture emerging trends in real time.