Where returned gifts end up

(CBS) -- In the weeks after Christmas, there is not an open shelf at Shorewood Liquidators outside Chicago.

Every item you see is a return! Like a refrigerator, an instrument case with the note 'has a little crack on the top'… and the popular 'instant pot' still in its original packaging.

"This year alone we've already taken in over 600,000 products which is a 23% increase from last year. It's busy," says Shorewood Liquidators' President Michael Ringelsten.

The majority of returns from major retailers - like Amazon - are handled by liquidators. The products are auctioned off at a deep discount online. Retailers are given a portion of the profits, and the liquidators keep the rest.

"The reality is the size of the return business industry is bigger than most countries! $300 billion a year of returned retail goods," says Bill Angrick, chairman and CEO of Liquidity Services Inc.

Returns shopper Phillip Goldberg says he's saved a ton bidding on these unwanted items.

"In total - hundreds of dollars! Although, I've gotten a few lemons too. You've gotta look at both sides of the coin. It's not a sure thing," he says.

There is a reason why people return products. Some are damaged, defective, or missing parts. But others maybe just weren't the perfect gift.