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Christmas gifts cost retailers billions each year

The number of products being sent back on National Returns Day (2nd January) were expected to be 72% higher than the average day in December according to the Royal Mail – contributing massively to the yearly total of £60 billion worth of products being returned to UK retailers. Data by B-Stock, a leading online secondary marketplace, showed that toys, speciality kitchen items, tools and women’s trendy apparel are the most returned items.

“Every year, the number of truckloads of returns doubles between January and March following the Christmas period,” says Ben Whitaker, EMEA Director at B-Stock. “Consumer behaviour is driving this level of returns with online shopping and customer-friendly returns policies encouraging the shop, regret and return customer behaviour. Online holiday returns are projected to reach rates of around 50 per cent of the total holiday sales figure of £21.22 billion. Retailers are swallowing billions of pounds of profits every year on holiday returns and each year the number is growing.”

According to a survey by Barnado’s, 50% of adults say they do not want or use the presents they receive on Christmas day. Receiving items from top leading retailers, B-Stock is seeing women’s clothing and speciality kitchen items as some of the most returned items after the holiday season.

Whitaker adds, “, returns place a burden on the retail industry who are already under pressure to generate profits across the high street and online. Many of the top leading retailers have strategies to deal with returned gifts such as finding resellers who are willing to buy these untouched presents and sell on. Doing so also supports the circular economy and avoids returned gifts from ending up in landfill which is a growing concern for retailers.”

As we head into the new year, sustainability is a growing area which retailers are increasingly taking responsibility for. “Already, we have witnessed big businesses removing the plastic toys from Christmas crackers and consumers switching to recyclable Christmas paper. The way retailers manage returned overstock is also a business operation which is under scrutiny particularly at this time of year when returns are the highest. This is why global leading retailers are utilising secondary marketplaces to deal with masses of returned overstock, simultaneously offsetting the losses of returned products too,” concluded Whitaker.

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