British shoppers take back £7 BILLION of purchases

The nation of buy before you try! British shoppers are ‘serial returners’ taking back £7 BILLION of purchases including HALF of all online orders each year blaming retailers’ inconsistent sizing

  • British retailers have seen returns rise by 20 per cent in the past two years  
  • Brits spend an average of £313 on clothing and return around £146 worth 
  • The number one reason shoppers return items is because they don’t fit 

British shoppers are a nation of ‘serial returners’ – taking back a £7 billion of purchases every year – the equivalent of the GDP of Monaco.

According to research a quarter of retailers – both in the high street and online – have seen a rise in returns of more than 20 per cent over the past two years, creating a ‘phantom economy’ of lost revenue.

A poll of 2,000 shoppers and 300 UK retailers by Barclaycard found that Brits spend an average of £313 on online clothes shopping each year, with £146-worth of gear returned, that’s a return rate of 47 per cent.

New research has proven British shoppers to be a nation of ‘serial returners’ with £7 billion of goods taken back every year

The biggest reason for returning items was that they didn’t fit, with 40 per cent blaming inconsistent sizing by various clothes manufacturers.

To combat the issue of inconsistent sizing across different brands, one-in-10 shoppers said they bought multiple sizes of the same item and returned those that don’t fit.

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As a result of the rise in shoppers returning items, 30 per cent of businesses confirmed that it had increased the price of items to cover the cost of managing and processing returns.

A total of 69 per cent of shoppers said they expected free returns on all online orders – and would snub firms which didn’t offer it.

Konrad Kelling, of Barclaycard, said today: ‘It’s clear having an effective and convenient returns policy that satisfies customer needs is a crucial factor of success for retailers.

Shoppers spend an average of £313 on online clothes shopping each year, with £146-worth of gear returned, that’s a return rate of 47 per cent 

‘While many have adopted new processes to help manage increasing returns volumes, the real focus should be on measures which help to reduce over-ordering in the first place.

‘Implementing technology such as virtual fitting rooms which allow shoppers to visualise how products will look when worn, for example, is one way retailers could reduce the number of returns and refunds they contend with, and in turn, the size of the phantom economy.’

Stylist Naomi Isted said: ‘As a nation of clothes lovers, we’ve become accustomed to over-ordering and subsequently returning on mass clothes bought online.

‘Today’s busy shopper often buys on the move and in a rush and it can be easy to forget that packaging up and returning items that aren’t right can be a time-consuming task.

‘It may sound simple but my advice is to try and shop online in the same way as you would in-store and only buy clothes that you really want and ultimately, will wear.

‘Rather than buying on impulse you should ask yourself if the purchase is really going to work in your wardrobe.

‘Small steps like making ‘wish lists’, reviewing items more critically and avoiding styles you haven’t tried and tested before can help prevent the hassle of returning later.’ 


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