More reports on: Retail

Serial returners among online shoppers accused of pushing up prices of garments

01 June 2016

The increasing number of 'serial returners' - online shoppers who ordered clothes in a range of sizes only to send most of them back showed no sign of slowing down, a new figure had shown.

The BBC reported that nearly two thirds of customers who bought women's clothes online in the last six months returned at least one garment.

In order to avoid queuing up to try clothes on in changing rooms, buyers are increasingly shopping online and taking advantage of shops' free returns policies.

With nearly two thirds of customers who bought women's clothes online in the last six months returning at least one garment, businesses are pushing up prices as they must re-coup the cost of hundreds of thousands of returns.

In a report for Radio 4, consumer analysts Savvy Marketing found that of 1,000 online shoppers, 56 per cent of people had returned one item or more in the six months leading up to May 2016, and the figure was even higher for women's clothes.

A Barclaycard study earlier this month revealed that almost one in five admitted to ordering multiple versions of the same item to make their mind up at home - safe in the knowledge they could return those that did not fit.

When shoppers returned clothes, outlets need to cover the cost of the postage, processing and storage of clothes and then prepare them for re-sale.

The process which the fashion industry calls "reverse logistics", cost the UK shops a total of 95.8 million in 2013, according to Columino, a retail analyst, reported. This cost was expected to have risen considerably with shoppers making more impulse purchases, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones.

The report comes as investigations had found a marked price differential between men's and women's clothing, with women often found to be paying a premium.

For instance, a Topshop roll-sleeve white T-shirt for women costs 12 but the same item in the men's department is priced at 8.

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