High Streets Initiative · 2 January 2018

Volume of returned items expected to double on “Takeback Tuesday”

Returns on Takeback Tuesday are set to reach double the daily average
Returns on Takeback Tuesday are set to reach double the daily average

Royal Mail has warned retailers to expect a wave of returns on Tuesday 2 January, forcing many small business owners to cover extra delivery costs for unwanted Christmas items.

On so-called “Takeback Tuesday”, the first working day of the year, Royal Mail has claimed retailers will receive double the amount of unwanted parcels compared to the average December day.

Meanwhile, the Post Office has said it is expecting its busiest day of the year as it copes with online shopping returns.

Retailers have been forced to adapt to a growing culture of returns in the UK, as online leaders such as ASOS opt for a margin cut in favour of customer experience.

Tracking insights firm Clear Returns has previously estimated returns cost online retailers as much as £20bn per year. As expectations shift, independent retailers with already-stretched margins are most likely to struggle to cover the cost of additional deliveries in the so-called “reverse supply chain”.

Royal Mail has also published new research revealing how vital free returns could be to customer retention. According to the findings, almost half of shoppers would be unlikely to return to a store if returns were not free.

Further, three in five expected to receive free returns regardless of how much they spent. If this wasn’t offered, a third of consumers would seek a different retailer providing free returns.

The research confirmed the expectation among consumers that hassle and cost-free returns should be part and parcel of shopping online.

Almost nine in ten shoppers would return to a store if re-sealable packaging was provided in the initial order, while 96 per cent wanted notification of a refund on their item’s return.

Commenting on the rise of Takeback Tuesday, Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, advised all retailers to ensure an effective returns process was in place.

“January is the busiest time of year for returns. Having an easy way to return online purchases is a crucial part of the online shopping experience. For retailers everywhere ensuring their returns experience is in line with consumers’ expectations is incredibly important.”

The study also showed which items were most commonly returned by shoppers.

Clothing 75 per cent
Footwear 38 per cent
Electrical goods 37 per cent

Younger shoppers were found to be the most prolific returners, while the average UK consumer sends back one online purchase every month for a refund.

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A MoneySavingExpert.com poll took the views of over 11,000 consumers to rank the best and worst parcel courier companies in the UK.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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