Brits spend over £2 billion on delivery and returns fees in one month alone

  •  A third (33%) of all online orders were returned in just one month
  • The average delivery cost of the UK’s top 100 retailers is £5.01 
  • The average consumer is willing to spend an extra £17.27 simply to qualify for free delivery

Consumer spending data1 shows online shoppers spent a total of £2.2 billion2 on delivery and returns fees for their online orders in one month alone.

Research by the UK savings site, VoucherCodes.co.uk, examines all delivery and returns costs for the top 100 retailers in the UK3, revealing that the average delivery fee costs consumers an extra £5.01 per order, and £1.18 per return, on top of the cost of the items purchased.

Mostly undeterred by skint January, the average person placed six online orders in one month alone and returned a third (33%) of the items they purchased – meaning that the average person has spent £32.42 on delivery and returns.

With high delivery charges, it’s no surprise that many customers admit to splashing extra cash just to get free delivery. More than two thirds of Brits (68%) frequently spend more than intended to hit the minimum spend threshold and qualify for free delivery, with the average shopper spending an extra £17.27 as a result. When it comes to scouting out discounts, almost one in three (29%) consumers admit to exclusively shopping with retailers that offer free delivery, whilst further data reveals women are more enticed (78%) by the promise of free delivery than men (57%).

Research also reveals a large gap in willingness to pay delivery costs. Shoppers aged 18-34 (35%) are most reluctant to fork out for delivery charges and are almost six times more likely to spend more money to qualify for free shipping fees than those over the age of 55 (6%). Those aged 18-24 spend an average of £20.39 more on items they didn’t initially add to their basket, just to qualify for free delivery. This is almost double the amount that over 55s are willing to part with in order to avoid delivery fees (£12.37).

However, with the rising use of buy now, pay later schemes such as Klarna, a fifth of consumers (15%) admit to paying no attention to delivery fees, as they don’t have to pay for goods until a later date.

It’s not just wasted delivery and returns costs hitting consumer bank balances. The nuisance of returning parcels is enough to put over one in ten (15%) consumers off, as they cite either forgetting or not bothering to get their money back for unwanted parcels. However, when it comes to the top culprits for returns, those aged 18-34 were three times as likely to return an order than someone over 55, each sending back three and one orders respectively in the past month.

Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at VoucherCodes.co.uk commented: “This year, consumers have already been able to take advantage of some great discounts offered by UK retailers. Thanks in part to the pandemic, the past couple of years have seen a huge rise in consumers relying on online shopping which shows little sign of waning. As a result, Brits are likely to be spending more than ever on receiving and returning their parcels and, as this research proves, this could result in everyone wasting more money too.

“With many feeling the pinch due to soaring inflation rates and the rising cost of living, there’s an abundance of people keen to cut costs wherever they can. With the average consumer spending £32.42 on delivery and returns fees in the past month alone, it’s no surprise that many shoppers are paying more attention to delivery costs and even shunning retailers who don’t offer free delivery.

“If you’re looking to save money on your online orders and continue shopping at a broad selection of brands, make sure you’re getting the best possible deal by making use of VoucherCodes’ discounts. Installing a free browser extension such as DealFinder from VoucherCodes will make finding discounts even easier as it automatically finds and applies the best discount codes available – a quick and easy way to save your pennies this year.”

1VoucherCodes.co.uk conducted the consumer research between 25th January and 27th January 2022. The sample size comprised of 2,000 UK adults.  

2 The average delivery and returns costs across the UK’s top 100 retailers is £5.01 and £1.18 respectively. Multiplying that by consumer data showing the average Brit made six orders and returned two of them, which amounts to a total of £32.42 spent on delivery and returns in one month alone. This is then multiplied by the UK population giving a total of £2,179,272,400.

32021 RetailX UK Top500 report in collaboration with Klarna

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