News Returns Are Bad News For Stores



Returns are bad news for stores
2nd January 2019

By Karen Pickwick

Today is peak returns day with thousands of unwanted items being returned to sellers.
January 2 is being dubbed ‘Wing Back Wednesday’ as thousands of unwanted gifts are sent back to stores, according to ParcelHero. Many Brits use the first day ‘back in reality’ after Christmas to return items – and last year the parcel delivery comparison site saw double the average volume of parcels being shipped in the first few days of January.

Clothes and footwear topped last year’s list of unloved items being sent back to retailers, with some items worth many hundreds of pounds.

David Jinks, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research said: “While it’s an unwelcome chore for the unlucky recipients of all these unwanted presents it’s very bad news for retailers, too. Our recent report, Retailers Reach the Point of No Returns, revealed returns cost retailers £60bn a year, with the worst time being the first week of January.


“Smaller online businesses have been left reeling after Christmas as shoppers demand they pay for all returns, not just faulty goods. Our research reveals half of all shoppers believe retailers should foot the bill for all returns, even if they have simply changed their minds about a purchase, or not liked a gift.

“As 8% of shoppers admit to returning several items a month, peaking after Christmas, small retailers say they are losing money on all returned items.”

David says people have 30 days – that’s January 23 for an item bought on Christmas Eve – to notify the seller there is a fault, under the Consumer Rights Act, for automatic refund or replacement of an item received damaged. That applies to items bought online or in store.

“And even better, a number of Britain’s favourite stores have promised a returns period of beyond 30 days. Marks & Spencer says any items purchased after October 8 can be returned before January 13, 2019; Amazon says any item bought between November 1 and December 31 can be returned by January 31, and John Lewis says any gift bought between October 21 and December 24 can be returned until January 18, even if it’s simply unwanted or unsuitable rather than faulty.


“No store has to extend its returns period; it’s a goodwill gesture which we applaud. However, once it has advertised its extension period, a store is legally obliged to adhere to the new returns date,” said David.

He warns that such generous returns policies are fine for large retailers but would push smaller traders into the red. With some small stores forced into even videoing the packaging of items to prove what was sent this Christmas, David said: “Many small specialist stores will go out of business if we continue to make them pay for unwanted item returns.”