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Retailers deal with online returns blitz

04 January 2017 - 12:20 by Sarah Collinson

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As people got back to work this week after the festive break, millions of Brits are thought to have contributed to an emerging 24 hour trend, which this year was known as ‘Take-back Tuesday’ according to the Mirror.

The Royal Mail predicted that as people returned to the office, they would also start returning the unwanted gifts they had received via safe shopping online. A 50 per cent boost to this type of activity was predicted, based on similar habits outlined in the first month of 2016.

Returns policies remain a key bone of contention for many consumers, with over a third of shoppers admitting that they would make online purchases more regularly if they had the opportunity to send back items free of charge.

The most likely items to be returned under the Royal Mail’s report are those which fall into the category of women’s clothes, with men’s clothes coming in second place.

Plenty of people have adopted the approach of buying fashion items via safe shopping online with the express intention of trying on different options and returning the ones that do not fit. This is advantageous for consumers, but poses a problem for retailers as they have to dedicate significant resources to coping with the influx of returned items, especially in the post-Christmas period.

There seems no way for retailers to turn back the clock on this trend, as their customers are increasingly expectant of having access to a comprehensive returns policy which does not penalise them for sending back unwanted items.

Of course, the cost of managing returns will likely result in price increases across relevant product lines, meaning that every consumer will end up paying for this habit, even if it is not something that is universally accepted in the UK.