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Nearly half of UK shoppers return multiple items bought online in festive sales, survey finds


Around 61% of UK consumers made returns during the months around Christmas in 2021 with 53% anticipating making returns this year, according to a new survey by intelligent delivery platform provider FarEye.

The trend towards purchasing multiple items with the intention of returning some of those items contributes to the number of Christmas returns, with 48% of UK respondents admitting they plan to return multiple items during the coming festive season.

“Returns are a problem for retailers, costing on average, 66% of the total purchase price, yet the retailer doesn’t see any revenue from the purchase,” said Kushal Nahata, CEO and co-founder, FarEye.

“Putting the cost on the consumer is not the answer, however. Retailers need to take a critical look at their returns strategy to drive down costs in ways that do not impact the consumer, like offering multiple drop-off locations for returns to reduce carrier costs and drive efficiency. These survey findings – while not surprising – reveal a mismatch between retailers’ plans and consumer expectations.”

The survey of 1,000 UK and US consumers explored expectations around the returns experience. It also found that consumers also want a lengthy return time period. Upwards of 84% of US consumers and 82% of UK consumers expect to be able to make a return between 30-90 days from purchase. These results confirm that the inconvenience of a returns policy may ultimately stop consumers from making a purchase.

Furthermore, consumers are most likely to return an item in-store, which is an opportunity for the retailer to recapture lost revenue as the consumer is likely to shop while returning their item. US and UK consumers report returning items in-store about one-third of the time (37% and 35% respectively). A post office or drop-off point is particularly popular in the UK at 44% of respondents stating it is their preferred method of return.

“Consumer expectations will no doubt remain high leading up to and around Christmas – one of the most profitable and critical revenue time periods for retailers. As retailers continue to simplify the last-mile delivery experience, they cannot forget about the returns experience. This too should be just as simple as the delivery experience,” concluded Nahata.

Read more: On the shelf – Not just products, retailers are now selling logistics services, a guest comment piece from FarEye’s, UK and Europe director, Danny Hudson.

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