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Retailers rethink returns policies due to increase in returns' volume, study shows

Wednesday 15 May 2019 | 10:19 AM CET

26% of retailers have seen an increase in the volume of goods being returned in the last two years, according to Barclaycard.

The research reveals that in the face of rising numbers of “serial returners”, 20% of retailers say they have taken measures to make their returns policy more stringent in 2018, with a further 19% planning to do so in the next 12 months.

Of these businesses that have tightened up their policies, 41 per cent say this is because too many customers are over-ordering items knowing they will return the majority, while 31% claim shoppers are using items and then returning them.

Other findings of the report:

  • stricter policies are starting to take effect, with 14% of shoppers having been penalised for flouting the small print;

  • consumers are feeling the impact of retailers becoming stricter in implementing their returns policies, with 14% saying they have been penalised by a retailer for their returns behaviour, from warning emails to account deactivations;

  • 29% of respondents admit they order items that they intend to return;

  • 20% of shoppers say they will only shop at retailers that offer free returns;

  • 49% say a retailer’s returns policy influences where they choose to shop;

  • 18% report they will only choose retailers that offer free returns.

  • 46% are concerned about the environmental impact of over-ordering and returning goods;

  • 11% have actively reduced the amount they order and return to protect environment.