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How the Top1000 retailers in Europe manage returns


Returns are inevitable in retail, and the eighth annual RetailX Top1000 Europe 2023 report has shown that European retailers are working to make them easy for consumers, in a bid to reassure their customers and boost sales.

The report found the majority of the Top1000 retailers in Europe (74%) offer returns through the post, although there has been an 8pp decline since last year. Retailers selling musical instruments (81%), fashion (79%) and cosmetics (77%) are the most likely to take this approach, as are those selling to Belgium (87%), Slovenia (85%) and the Netherlands (85%).

However there have been significant declines since last year, both in the UK (-16pp to 67%) and Sweden (-10pp to 75%).

Offering returns via pick-up from the house can be very convenient for customers as long as it can be done without hitting margins. Use of this returns method has increased over the last year (+12pp to 21%), and is most commonly offered by automotive retailers (42%), pharmacies (34%) and stationers (33%).

It has seen a particularly large uptake in the UK since last year, where more than a third of Top1000 retailers selling to the market now offer it (35%; +27pp). It is also available in Romania (21%) and (Portugal 20%).

Where retailers charge a returns fee, this is an average of €10, while the median retailer charges €5. Fees are higher in categories selling larger objects, such as consumer electronics (€14.10/€13.30) and homewares (€13.8/€9.70). They are lowest among those selling fashion products (€5.07/€3.32), which tend to deal in smaller-sized items.

This feature originally appeared in the RetailX Top1000 Europe report. Download this comprehensive annual report in full here. It also includes seven company profiles illustrating how the top retailers and brands are leading the way: Albert Heijn, H&M, Empik, Oysho, Castorama, GuitarGuitar and River Island. And an exclusive interview with Ikea.

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