Picking Perfection reported this week that retailer Stage's average rate of return throughout the year is about 7 percent of sales in its physical stores and about 11 percent online, adjusted for exchanges. Over the holidays, those figures grow. (Many merchants keep the exact increase a secret.) Noted Steven Hunter, Chief Information Officer at Stage: "Holiday returns for any retailer can be challenging." The Christmas season is a windfall for retailers, who book as much as 40 percent of their annual sales during the season, but many of those reindeer sweaters, neon socks, and micro-miniskirts in size 16 come back to haunt them. Post-holidays, retailers see triple the number of returns of any other time of year, says Jack Plunkett, Chief Executive Officer of Plunkett Research. "We think something will fit or look good on us, and it doesn't, and we send it back," he explained. The resulting pileups of returning merchandise, he commented, "create a huge problem for the whole retail system."