Black Friday shopping? Don't make these regrettable moves

Retailers are starting to discount their wares earlier and earlier, which means consumers barely need to wait for Black Friday to start their holiday shopping. Clothing in particular seems to get cheaper and cheaper -- making it an irresistible purchase for many. 

But before you buy your niece or office-mate that trendy top, know this: They're probably not going to keep it.

Poorly received gifts have long been a fact of the holiday season, but some new figures show just how badly some brands do.

ThredUp, the online consignment store, analyzed what customers were sending in the most, and when. 

ThredUp works by mailing out a bag for a thrifter to fill with clothing she no longer wants (the company calls it a "clean-out kit"). Workers then go through all the items and put some up for sale, based on the condition of the garments and ThredUp's existing inventory.  

Around the holidays, the amount of new-with-tags items ThredUp receives doubles. Last year, the company got about 200,000 items completely unworn.

"There's all sorts of new reasons people would return brand-new items, but in general it means it's not something they wanted or it's in the back of their closet," said Karen Clark, ThredUp's head of marketing communications.  

Data from ThredUp for 2016

Typically about one-tenth of the items ThredUp receives are new with tags, but that figure differs widely across brands and styles. For Missguided brand clothing, a whopping 46 percent is sent in new and unworn, making it the brand with the highest "regret rate" of all those ThredUp received. Celebrity-backed clothes, like the Kardashian Kollection and Kate Hudson's Fabletics, were sent in new at much higher-than-average rates.

The lowest "regret rate" belongs to Everlane, a line of ethically manufactured basics. Last year, out of 1,641 Everlane branded items ThredUp received, only three still had tags.

Other things that don't do well over the holidays? Activewear. North Face fleeces sent in to ThredUp new increased by 80 percent after the holidays, followed by Under Armour shorts and Nike Active shirts. (It's harder to tell, however, if these garments were unwanted gifts or evidence of resolutions to get in shape that were abandoned in record time.) 

Data from ThredUp for 2017

So that covers being unable to choose gifts for others, but what about the self-gift? "Black Friday remorse," it turns out, is fueled by jeans above everything. Among all the items sent to ThredUp, shipments of jeans dominated the ranks of the never-worn. Express brand jeans were top of the list, with new items surging 250 percent following Black Friday. Then came True Religion jeans and J.Crew jeans. 

"The denim was surprising," Clark said. "At first, when that data came back, we were a little confused -- why are we getting 30 different types of jeans? We realized it's probably an indication of people taking advantage of Black Friday deals to buy for themselves, since jeans are one of the most common items that people buy for themselves," she said.

For those who absolutely must do some pre-holiday clothing shopping, Clark recommends sticking with classic styles. Trendier items are more likely to be returned, with items like "cold shoulder" tops, coated jeans and metallic garments all showing up at high rates in ThredUp's warehouses. 

"Maybe getting a trendy style as a gift is a little riskier," Clark said. "Unless you know that person very well and know they'll enjoy cold shoulder."