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Germans first in Europe for returns on online purchases

The particularly low refund rate for food and cosmetics

Online commerce is booming. The high competitiveness among on-line retailers favors the offer of a free return service and with very generous return times. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, around half of Germans returned online orders in 2020. Among the products returned most frequently are clothing (33%) and shoes (17%). Consumer electronics and household appliances are returned less frequently. The return rate is particularly low for cosmetics and food products.

At a European level, for example in neighboring Poland, this percentage is significantly lower: only 36%. Considering the return part of the business model, however, has overall negative economic and ecological consequences. In another survey by the Statista Global Consumer Survey, 55% of retailers say this merchandise can no longer be classified or used as quality merchandise and is either destroyed or recycled. 50% of respondents also indicated that only lightly damaged merchandise will be sold as used or on sale. According to researchers at the University of Bamberg, the number of returns could be reduced by specifying uniform sizes for manufacturers and introducing a rate for returns.

The volume of online orders is currently particularly high due to the stationary retail closures due to the pandemic. Thanks to e-commerce, retail sales in 2020 recorded the fastest growth rate since 1994. As a result, the number of returns in 2021 will also be almost certainly higher than normal.

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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