Brits will return almost a third of the items they buy online this Christmas, CollectPlus reveals

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CollectPlus reports British shoppers estimate they will return almost one in three of the items they buy online this Christmas and spend an average of 52 minutes each returning unwanted online purchases over the festive season, costing the UK economy almost £505m in lost hours.

The news comes as CollectPlus predicts there will be a peak in the number of gifts bought online being returned  3 December – dubbed ‘Boomerang Wednesday’ – following ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday,’ after shoppers change their minds about their purchases and look to get a quick refund so they can find alternative gifts in time for Christmas.

CollectPlus reported a 25% increase in parcel return volumes in the same week on Thursday in 2013, compared to an average Thursday outside of the Christmas period. With the growing significance of Black Friday, CollectPlus predicts that returns will peak a day earlier this year, estimating an increase in returns volume of 30% today, Wednesday 3 December, and continuing into Thursday 4 December as customers return items bought on ‘Cyber Monday’.

Neil Ashworth, CEO of CollectPlus, said: “With the increased enthusiasm for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we expect to see a sharp returns peak starting today – Boomerang Wednesday.  This will be the first peak in the immediate aftermath of these two huge online sales days and we predict this will be followed by another in the week before Christmas. Our research tells us that the average shopper is taking valuable time and losing money each year due to complicated or costly returns. As such, it is imperative that retailers have a robust model in place to ensure that customers can conveniently return any unwanted items and are quickly reimbursed.”

Although people are now returning items more quickly than ever before, and retailers have significantly improved their returns processes in recent years, the overall convenience of the service remains behind customers’ expectations. Thirty-nine percent of Brits admit to returning items they have bought online in the past year, with the average person spending 8 hours and 42 minutes returning goods over the course of 2014. Almost a fifth (19%) have taken time out of work to return an item, one in 10 (10%) during their lunch hour.

Many shoppers cite barriers when it comes to returning their online purchases, with more than one in five (21%) admitting they delay returning unwanted items because they do not want to wait around in a queue, and one in seven (14%) saying they resent having to plan their day around Post Office opening hours. In addition, 27% are put off ordering something online in the first place because they do not want the hassle of returning it if it is not right.

One in eight (12%) estimate they fail to recoup at least £240 every year on items they have bought online and later decided they did not want but never returned – either due to the fact they do not want to pay return postage (37%), just can’t be bothered (36%) or they are put off by the thought of busy shops, particularly during the festive season.

CollectPlus is a joint venture between PayPoint, the leading retail payment network and Yodel, the UK’s leading independent parcel carrier.