Online returns cost shoppers £2.2bn in just one month

Online shopping returns cost consumers a total of £2.2 billion on delivery and returns fees in January alone, with one in every three orders being returned.

The latest research from has revealed that 33% of all online orders were returned last month, with the average person placing six online orders. After returning one in three of these purchases, the average shopper will have spent a total of £32.42 on delivery and returns. examined all delivery and returns costs for the top 100 retailers in the UK, revealing that the average delivery fee is £5.01 per order, while returns cost an average of £1.18 each, on top of the cost of the items purchased.

The research also revealed that the average consumer is willing to spend an extra £17.27, simply to qualify for free delivery.

More than two thirds of UK shoppers (68%) frequently spend more than originally intended in order to hit the minimum spend threshold and qualify for free delivery. When it comes to scouting out discounts, almost one in three (29%) consumers admit to exclusively shopping with retailers that offer free delivery.

Read more: Sustainability and Brexit key delivery concern for consumers

The data reveals that women are more enticed (78%) by the promise of free delivery than men (57%), while younger shoppers aged 18-24 are the most reluctant to fork out for delivery charges, with 35% spending more to avoid them.

Those aged 18-24 spend an average of £20.39 more on items they didn’t initially want, just to qualify for free delivery. Meanwhile, just 6% of over-55s will bump up their order in order to avoid delivery fees, and only by £12.37.

The increase of buy now, pay later schemes such as Klarna mean that one in six consumers (15%) admit they pay no attention to delivery fees, as they put it off until later.

“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, ” said lifestyle editor Anita Naik.

“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…. it’s no surprise that many shoppers are paying more attention to delivery costs and even shunning retailers who don’t offer free delivery.”

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