Retailers are expected to receive returns valuing 2.5 billion pounds from unwanted Christmas presents this month, with January 2, dubbed “takeback Tuesday” as consumers handle returns as they go back to work following the festive break.

According to a study commissioned by Royal Mail, three in four consumers who purchased women’s clothing will return an item, followed by footwear (38 percent) and electrical goods (37 percent).

When looking at the clothing category in more detail, Royal Mail states that dresses (37 percent) are the most commonly returned women’s item of clothing, followed by crop tops/t-shirts (22 percent) and trousers/jeans (20 percent). While for male shoppers trousers/jeans are the most returned item (28 percent), followed by shirts (23 percent) and coats/jackets (20 percent).

The main reason for returning clothes is because an item did not fit (42 percent), followed by wrong size (32 percent), not suitable (20 percent) or was not what was expected (20 percent), according to Royal Mail’s annual Delivery Matters report.

While logistics consultancy LCP, which came up with the 2.5 billion pounds returns figure, states that shoes have by far the highest return rate at 28 percent, followed by clothing (20 percent) and homewares (15 percent).

Royal Mail adds that shoppers also now have an expectation of ease and efficiency when it comes to online order returns, with 81 percent of consumers say they prefer returns labels to be included with purchases. While almost 90 percent would consider themselves likely to shop with a retailer again if re-sealable packaging was provided.

Speed and guidance is also key, with 96 percent adding that they believe it’s important to get notified of a refund upon their item being returned, while 75 percent consider it important to have guidance about which returns label to use and to get refunded quickly after a return.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: “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.”


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