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Two-thirds of shoppers send items back

Online returns ‘forcing up prices of goods’

shop onlineOnline retailers are facing a deluge of returned goods which is threatening to put some of them out of business.

Almost two thirds of shoppers who bought women’s clothes online in the last six months sent at least one item back, according to new analysis.

Retailers said free returns were an important part of their business, but the cost of processing them meant prices had to rise to avoid going under.

Consumer analysts, Savvy Marketing compiled the figures for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.

It found 56% of all people questioned, who bought any type of clothing online in the six months up to May 2016, had returned or more items. The figure was higher for women’s clothes.

The ability to buy goods through mobile phones also made it easier for shoppers to buy goods, but this had also fuelled impulse buying.

Student Emily Murray told the programme she bought a lot online, especially for occasions when she did not want pictures of herself “popping up repeatedly in the same dress on Facebook”.

She said it was “near impossible” to know which would fit her, so she ordered different sizes.

“I end up sending back pretty much half of what I buy and it might even be more,” she said.

The boss of one logistics firm said the quantity of returned goods being handled at any one time was enough to cover “40 football pitches”.

You and Yours says some of the clothes were returned with lipstick stains and other clear signs that they had been worn and about 5% end up “being binned”.

The volume of returns is becoming a big issue for retailers who have been forced to offer an online service to counter the loss of sales in high street stores.

Retailers must offer customers the option of returning goods bought online within 14 days.

You can hear more on this story on You and Yours on BBC Radio 4 at 12:15  on Monday 30 May.

 



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