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Returns set to cost the UK Economy up to £505m

Returns set to cost the UK Economy up to £505m

Returns of unwanted online purchases set to cost the UK Economy up to £505m and UK consumers 52 minutes each this christmas. 

Returns expected to peak today as online shoppers have second thoughts on purchases made in ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ sales.

•     Brits will return 31% of the items they buy online this Christmas, with a surge after ‘Black Friday’ anticipated on Wednesday  3 December - dubbed ‘Boomerang Wednesday’
•    The average Briton will spend 52 minutes returning their online purchases this Christmas
•    19% of people have previously taken time out of work to return their online shopping…
•    With the cost to the UK economy expected to reach £505m this Christmas

CollectPlus, the modern alternative to the Post Office, today revealed that British shoppers estimate they will return almost one in three of the items they buy online this Christmas and spend an average of 52 minutes each returning unwanted online purchases over the festive season, costing the UK economy almost £505m* in lost hours.

The news comes as CollectPlus predicts there will be a peak in the number of gifts bought online being returned today, Wednesday 3 December - dubbed ‘Boomerang Wednesday’ – following ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday,’ after shoppers change their minds about their purchases and look to get a quick refund so they can find alternative gifts in time for Christmas.

CollectPlus reported a 25% increase in parcel return volumes in the same week on Thursday in 2013, compared to an average Thursday outside of the Christmas period. With the growing significance of Black Friday, CollectPlus predicts that returns will peak a day earlier this year, estimating an increase in returns volume of 30% today, Wednesday 3 December, and continuing into Thursday 4 December as customers return items bought on ‘Cyber Monday’.

Neil Ashworth, CEO of CollectPlus, said: “With the increased enthusiasm for ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday,’ we expect to see a sharp returns peak starting today - ‘Boomerang Wednesday’.  This will be the first peak in the immediate aftermath of these two huge online sales days and we predict this will be followed by another in the week before Christmas. Our research tells us that the average shopper is taking valuable time and losing money each year due to complicated or costly returns. As such, it is imperative that retailers have a robust model in place to ensure that customers can conveniently return any unwanted items and are quickly reimbursed.”

Although people are now returning items more quickly than ever before, and retailers have significantly improved their returns processes in recent years, the overall convenience of the service remains behind customers’ expectations. Thirty-nine percent of Brits admit to returning items they have bought online in the past year, with the average person spending 8 hours and 42 minutes returning goods over the course of 2014. Almost a fifth (19%) have taken time out of work to return an item, one in ten (10%) during their lunch hour.

Many shoppers cite barriers when it comes to returning their online purchases, with more than one in five (21%) admitting they delay returning unwanted items because they do not want to wait around in a queue, and one in seven (14%) saying they resent having to plan their day around Post Office opening hours. In addition, 27% are put off ordering something online in the first place because they do not want the hassle of returning it if it is not right.

One in eight (12%) estimate they fail to recoup at least £240 every year on items they have bought online and later decided they did not want but never returned - either due to the fact they do not want to pay return postage (37%), just can’t be bothered (36%) or they are put off by the thought of busy shops, particularly during the festive season.

For those worried about not being able to return their parcels during traditional opening hours, CollectPlus provides online shoppers with a more convenient alternative to the Post Office in terms of opening hours and locations through its 5,800 parcel outlets, all of which are open seven days a week, early ‘til late. As well as working with over 260 retail brands to offer customers a convenient tracked returns service, CollectPlus is the largest third party click and collect provider in the UK. It enables customers of more than 40 brands including Amazon, John Lewis, Very, ASOS and The White Company to have their online purchases delivered to their local store which they can collect at a time that suits them, any day of the week.

CollectPlus is a joint venture between PayPoint, the leading retail payment network and Yodel, the UK’s leading independent parcel carrier.

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