Christmas shopping online

Unwanted Christmas gifts send return rates soaring on ‘Take Back Tuesday’

Image credit: Dreamstime

The growing volume of shopping done online is leading to a dramatic increase in the number of parcels returned after Christmas.

As people troop back to work on the first Tuesday after the winter break, they will often carry their unwanted purchases with them to drop off at the Post Office to return to retailers.

This phenomenon has led to Royal Mail dubbing the day “Take Back Tuesday”.

As more and more Christmas shopping is conducted online, the volume of unloved goods returned to retailers after the winter break grows in what has become the biggest day in the calendar for returns.

According to Royal Mail, clothing, shoes and electronics are the most commonly returned items, with 75 per cent of clothing, 38 per cent of shoes and 37 per cent of electrical goods being returned. Young shoppers are more likely to return items and most shoppers, Royal Mail found, were likely to be put off a retailer if it did not provide free returns.

“January is the busiest time of year for returns,” said Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels in a statement. “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.”

According to ParcelHero, a UK-based courier service, return order values increased by 22 per cent over Take Back Tuesday 2017, with many more returns continuing on the second working day back after the winter break.

“Canny online shoppers know they have 14 days to return goods for any reason and get a full refund, under Consumer Contracts Regulations, which means getting returned gifts sent back is increasingly urgent,” said David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, “Items bought online before Christmas have until the 7th January at the latest to be returned for any reason.”

“With record return numbers this week it’s clear canny shoppers are squeezing the most from the Consumer Contracts Regulation’s 14-day no-quibble law, but this is concerning for smaller traders who can’t afford the cost abnormally high returns incur. Returned items are now costing UK SME retailers over £20m a year and some online retailers are seeing returns as high as 60 per cent over the Christmas and New Year period.”

“There will undoubtedly be some online stores that will close as a casualty of the sheer volume of returns this year.”

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them

Close