The aftermath of the holiday season has Brits preparing to return a mountain of unwanted and ill-fitting gifts. ParcelHero forecasts that a staggering £1.41 billion worth of items will be sent back to retailers. This surge of post-Christmas returns is a significant aspect of consumer behavior, with Royal Mail predicting a 52% spike in returned online purchases on January 2, 2024, which has been nicknamed “Takeback Tuesday.”
The importance of a hassle-free returns process is underscored by the fact that 81% of consumers are more inclined to shop again with a retailer if they have a positive returns experience, a Royal Mail study indicates. The same study reveals that consumers are disinclined to shop with retailers that charge for returns.
Free returns are a key decision-making factor for nearly half of online shoppers, with 47% stating it would most likely sway them to choose one retailer over another.
Commenting on the trend, Nick Landon, Royal Mail’s Chief Commercial Officer, emphasized the importance of January as the peak month for returns, noting that a retailer’s returns policy can significantly influence customer loyalty and repeat business.
Interestingly, ParcelHero observed that the volume of returns on the first working day after Christmas was down by 6% from the previous year, attributing this slight decrease to reduced Christmas spending rather than a shift in consumer habits.
David Jinks from ParcelHero pointed out the slight decline in the volume and value of returns this year, suggesting that while it could be hoped that environmental concerns or the financial impact on smaller retailers might have influenced consumer behavior, it is more likely a reflection of a subdued holiday shopping season.
The report by ParcelHero sheds light on the costly nature of returns for UK sellers, which amount to around £60 billion annually, with a significant portion of this figure stemming from post-Christmas returns. In the previous year, nearly half of all ParcelHero shipments in the first week of January were marked as “returns,” illustrating the scale of the post-holiday returns season.