The big picture: As a child, I can remember my parents actively avoiding big box retailers like Walmart for a few weeks after Christmas due to the ridiculously long lines populated with people returning gifts. Turns out, that same sort of behavior persists today albeit in the online retail space.

Optoro, a retail technology company, forecasts that US consumers will return roughly $100 billion worth of unwanted goods purchased between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And gifts purchased online will be nearly three times as likely to be returned, the Financial Times highlights.

The massive influx in returns will create a huge headache for retailers, too. Most will have to be handled individually, adding to labor costs, and some items like laptops will need to be inspected for damage and missing components. All of this destroys any potential profit margin.

In fact, Forrester estimates that 50 percent of all online returns have little to no salvage value at all. Andy Mantis, chief business officer at analytics company 1010 data, said, “Anything less than original condition and the retailer has to sell it at a discount.”

According to Optoro, around five billion pounds of returned goods in the US each year are a complete wash and end up in landfills. Yet even still, most retailers are willing to accept high return rates as the cost of doing business as quite frankly, not selling online would be suicide for many.

Masthead credit: Online shopping by Natee Meppian. Supply chain by William Potter.