Jan 2, 2019
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Returns surge expected, especially for fashion - Royal Mail report

Jan 2, 2019

Retailers can’t afford to declare the Christmas shopping season a success just yet, even for the few where it looks that way, with today (Wednesday) set to see a deluge of returns as daily life gets back to normal after the Christmas holidays.

Unwanted Christmas gifts will spark a returns surge this week

That’s according to parcels carrier Royal Mail which has dubbed the day Takeback Wednesday. It’s predicting that returns will rise by 80% compared to normal weekday returns traffic during December with fashion stores set to refund the most money.

And it said that how stores handle these returns is crucial as 60% of online shoppers won’t use a retailer again “if they have a difficult returns experience.” But as many as 40% of shoppers say they’d be likely to buy more items if a retailer offered a ‘try before you buy service’.

Clothing is the most commonly returned item with 75% of shoppers taking fashion buys back, well ahead of electrical goods (42%) and computer software/hardware (33%).

Women are more likely to return something because the item isn’t what they expected with men more likely to return a non-clothing item because it’s incompatible or not useful for its intended purpose.

The prediction for this week comes as Royal Mail also said that the average consumer in the UK sends back an online purchase every month.

It also said that 34% of those who return items have used ‘try before you buy’ services (rising to 49% among the 18 to 34 age group). While take-up of such services may not reduce the level of returns as try before you buy means some returns are almost inevitable, it could boost customer satisfaction.

Some 53% of those who return clothing or footwear say the most common reason to return is because the item didn’t fit or was the wrong size. That means the opportunity to try on more sizes and styles without having to pay upfront is likely to make a shopper feel more positive about the e-tailer from which they're buying.

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