Dec 22, 2020
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Returns tsunami expected post-Christmas - report

Dec 22, 2020

​Expect a massive wave of post-Christmas gift returns, adding extra pressure to a hectic online supply chain, a report claims.

Expect a major spike in online gift returns post-Christmas says report - Photo: Pexels/Public domain

An estimated £6.9 billion worth of online purchases are expected to be returned after the festive period, up 31% on last year and markedly higher than a £4.8 billion returns total in 2018, according to Returnado. Expect the busiest day to be 10 January, the returns and exchanges specialist noted.

And in the face of new, harsher restrictions, some retailers have been forced to extend or change their returns policies after the enforced closure of stores this week, the Daily Telegraph reported. 

While in-store click & collect is banned across all physical retail for non-essential stores, Next said its stores in Tier 4 will remain available for customers to collect online orders and hand back goods, although shoppers will be unable to go inside a store.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Argos and Amazon have already agreed to allow shoppers more time to return items bought especially for the festive season after the tightening of restrictions.  

Although most brands’ cut-off is towards the end of January, chains are likely to extend this even further if stores remain closed for a longer period in Tier 4 areas. The problem with that for retailers is that it gives them less visibility over what has and hasn't definitely sold and also raises the prospect of having to discount Christmas product later in the New Year than usual.

The anticipated returns spike follows a boom in e-commerce trading when lockdown restrictions forced consumers to buy of their goods digitally.

The report noted that with a significant increase in first-time online shoppers this year, order mistakes or revised decisions could only add to the returns avalanche.

Some presents may also be sent back because new tougher Christmas rules mean families will be unable to meet up and give each other gifts, it noted.

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