Where do all the Christmas returns go?

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PLAINFIELD, Ind.—The post-holiday shopping frenzy is over and now it’s time to figure out what to do with the gifts people don’t want or can’t exchange.

So what happens to the drill your husband bought that you’ll never use; or that tech gadget from a friend that you already have? Those items are returned to the big box store and major retailer in January and February, and many of them end up in warehouses across the country to be re-valued and re-sold.

According to the National Retail Federation, eight percent of retail sales made in 2015 were returned, that totals roughly $260 billion of merchandise going back to store.

“Most retail companies if you have a return they’ll take it right back. They’ll say ‘sure we’ll take it back!’ but then they have to have some place to put it,” said Karen Ling, general manager of a Liquidity Services warehouse in Plainfield, Ind.

Liquidity Services uses e-commerce markets to manage, re-value and re-sell inventory and equipment. Ling says they see a spike in product coming in during January and February as more and more people return unwanted holiday presents.

“It runs the gamut,” says Ling, “You would be surprised the stuff we get back.”

From furniture and technology, to tools and toys items come in by the semi-truck full and are processed, valued and put out to be sold online or bundled for online auctions.

Liquidity Services unloads each pallet or box and then checks in each product. If it’s a tech item like a tablet or iPad, specialists perform data wiping, product inspections, grading and testing. They then repackage the items and put them out on websites like Secondipity or put them out to auction.

Now that they’re busy processing the re-selling returned holiday presents, Liquidity Services will output several trucks full of auctioned items or individual purchases.

The discounted items can be found on www.liquidation.com or www.secondipity.com.