- ReBOUND data shows Jan 22 returns were more than 1.5x higher than Jan 21
- December 21 was busiest returns month ever – 226% higher than Dec 20
- December 2021 surpassed December 2020 returns volumes in just 9 days
UK fashion retailers saw more than twice the number of returns sent back to them in January 2022 compared to January 2021, according to new data from returns specialists ReBOUND.
ReBOUND, a Reconomy Group company helping retailers manage returns, analysed millions of transactions dating back to 2019 and found that January 2022 return volumes were 164% higher than the same month in 2021. January is usually the busiest month of the year for returns – however, January 2022 and 2021 were both dwarfed by December 2021 – which saw 10% more returns than January 2022 and 226% higher volumes than December 2020. This makes December 2021 the busiest returns month ReBOUND has ever recorded.
ReBOUND also found that December 2021 had already surpassed the total volume of returns seen in the same 2020 month by 9th December 2021. One explanation for these volumes could be that concerns around the Omicron variant saw many festive plans change and outfits bought for Christmas parties sent back.
Returns were high across 2021. Despite lockdown measures across the UK lifting in early January 2021, ReBOUND saw a 44% rise in the annual volume of online returns sent back to fashion retailers compared to 2020.
Online shopping typically sees a higher rate of return than in-store and while high streets haven’t faced lockdown closures for over a year, the sheer volume of returns remains high due to the pandemic-induced online shopping boom. ReBOUND found that the average online return rate – the proportion of purchases the typical shopper tends to send back – rose to 40% in January 2022, compared to 33% pre-COVID – meaning two in every five online fashion purchases are now sent back.
Graham Best, ReBOUND CEO, said: “This data clearly shows that retail’s high returns era is here to stay and brands can no longer afford to maintain a ‘sell everything to everyone’ mindset. We know that most customers do lower their own individual return rates over time if they continue buying from one brand, as they’ll become more accustomed to that brand’s sizing details as well as their own preferences. However, retailers simply cannot afford to wait, as volumes of this scale will have enormous environmental and economic costs. Retailers should act now, tracking returns data to understand how carbon emissions can be cut from inefficient routes and how to provide shoppers with purchases they’re more likely to keep.”