Rise of serial returners forces retailers to rethink policies

Rise of serial returners forces retailers to rethink policies

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

The company polled 250 senior decision makers in retailers with an online presence. In the face of rising numbers of serial returners, a fifth have taken measures to make their returns policy more stringent in the last year, with a further 19% planning to do so in the next 12 months. Of those that have tightened up their policies, four in ten say this is because too many customers are over-ordering items knowing they will return the majority, while three in ten claim shoppers are using items and then returning them.

Barclaycard also surveyed 2,004 Brits and found that 14% have been penalised for flouting the small print, from warning emails to account deactivations. Penalties have also been incurred for returning too many items, sending back purchases that have been used, returning goods without the right packaging or missing the returns deadline. This is especially true of Millennials, who are more than twice as likely to fall foul of the small print.

It isn’t much of a deterrent, however, with three in ten people admitting they order items that they intend to return – a figure that rises to 48% of 25-34 year olds. Flexible returns policies have become the norm, with 49% saying a retailer’s returns policy influences where they choose to shop, and 18% reporting they will only choose retailers that offer free returns. Despite this expectation, 46% are concerned about the environmental impact of over-ordering and returning goods, with one in ten having actively reduced the amount they order and return because of this.

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