shopping_bagsDALLAS, Nov 7, 2007 / FW/ — ‘Wardrobing,’ the unethical practice of returning non-defective merchandise is escalating in the retail and fashion industry, according to the National Retail Federation.

Latest statistic cite that nearly two-thirds (66.1%) of retailers have been victims of ‘wardrobers’ in the past year, up from 56.0% of the previous year.

Classified under ‘fraudulent returns’ by loss prevention executives in retail stores, wardrobers will ‘purchase’ an article of clothing, be it a dress, a blouse, a pair of pants, then wear it for one time without taking the tags!

After a wardrober is done with it for whatever reason, he or she goes back to the store and returns the merchandise with no questions asked because it is still ‘within the days of the return policy of the retailer.’

Wardrobing is just one of the many problems that beset retailers. According to the National Retail Federation’s second annual Return Fraud Survey, loss prevention executives anticipate that nearly nine percent (8.93%) of holiday returns will be fraudulent, up slightly from 8.67 percent last year .

As a result, return fraud will cost retailers an estimated $3.7 billion this holiday season, up from $3.5 billion last year. Retailers will lose $10.8 billion to return fraud in 2007.

According to the survey, completed by 60 retail loss prevention executives last month, nine out of ten retailers (92.0%) have had stolen merchandise returned to stores within the past year.

Retailers also report being victimized by returns of merchandise originally purchased with fraudulent or stolen tender (83.1%) and returns using counterfeit receipts (51.0%).