Skip to content

Returns statistics - Facts & figures on returns in online retailing 2022/2023

Returns statistics for returns in online retailing

Are you looking for meaningful Returns statistics for online trading? Then you've come to the right place. Internet commerce is growing and growing - and with it, of course, the number of returns. With serious consequences for retailers and our environment.

So in this post, I'm going to provide you with facts and figures about online order returns. These will show you why it is so important, Consciously avoid returns.

Notice: If you use any of the returns statistics from this post, please cite the following source. Thank you for your support!

Basic returns statistics

Germany is the country of online order returners. There's no other way to put it. The following statistics at least leave no doubt about that:

  • 280 million parcel returns were counted in German online retail in 2018.₁
  • Total 487 million items were returned in German online retail in 2018.₂
  • 238,000 tons of CO2 were emitted in German online retail in 2018 for avoidable returns.₃
  • With 500 grams CO2 DHL quantifies the average CO2-emissions per package shipped.₄

Which items were preferentially returned in German online retailing?

The following data from a 2019₅ survey of 2,078 participants between the ages of 18 and 64 shows which items were returned in Germany and with what frequency:

  • Clothing: 32 percent
  • Shoes: 17 percent
  • Consumer electronics: 6 percent
  • Bags & Accessories: 4 percent
  • Home appliances: 4 percent
  • Books/Movies/Music/Games: 3 percent
  • Sports and outdoor articles: 3 percent
  • Toys/baby products: 3 percent
  • Furniture & Housewares: 3 percent
  • Cosmetics & Body Care: 3 percent
  • DIY/Gardening/Pet Supplies: 2 percent
  • Hobby & Stationery: 1 percent
  • Food & Beverage: 1 percent
  • Other: 2 percent

Facts & figures on returns from a customer perspective

Here you can find some statistics on returns, related to customer behavior:

  • Round 50 percent of all garments are returned by German online customers.₆
  • About 70 percent of all shoes ordered are returned by German online customers.₇
  • For 77 percent of German consumers uncomplicated returns are a pretty important criterion for choosing a retailer.₈
  • About 32 percent of German consumers return more than 3 items per year to the online seller.₉
  • About 26 percent of German consumers do not send back a single package a year to the online seller.₁₀
  • 51 percent of returns come about because the item does not meet the buyer's expectations.₁₁

Returns statistics from the retailer's point of view

Not only for our environment, but also for retailers, a high number of returns naturally has significant consequences. Here are the corresponding statistics:

  • 15,18 Euro is the average cost of a return for the participating mail order companies in a study.₁₂
  • About 28.6 percent - that is the mail order return rate in Germany.₁₃

What happens to the returned items?

For many, it is certainly also interesting how retailers deal with the goods after receiving the returns. A survey conducted by the EHI Retail Institute among 92 German online retailers₁₄ provides information on this:

  • Destruction/Disposal: 55 percent
  • Secondary marketing as B-goods: 50 percent
  • Sale via outlet: 37 percent
  • Donation: 27 percent
  • Return to the supplier: 24 percent
  • Sale to staff: 22 percent
  • Customer pays depreciation: 13 percent

Use statistics on returns in online retailing

Returns statistics of the online trade

I hope that I have been able to provide you with meaningful facts and figures on the topic of returns in online mail order. Please use the data to Raising awareness in our society for the conscious avoidance of returns from the retailer's point of view, but especially from the customer's point of view.

Do you have questions or other statistics that should not be missing here? Then feel free to write me a comment. And if you use a statistic from this post, please don't forget to link this post as the source. Thanks a lot!

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: In the article about the Avoidance of returns you will learn what you can do to combat the massive returns mania from both a customer and a retailer perspective.

₁,₂,₃ German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE): Avoiding Returns, available at[22.01.2020].

₄ macondo publishing GmbH: DHL transports private customer parcels nationwide CO2-neutral at no extra charge (as of June 28, 2011), available at [22.01.2020].

₅ Statista Global Consumer Survey (2019): Which of these items have you returned after ordering online in the last 12 months? (As of Jun. 18, 2019), available at [22.01.2020].

₆ Bayerischer Rundfunk: Online shopping: Reduce returns | Gut zu wissen | BR, YouTube, 01.01.2020, Web, 20.01.2020 at 13:08, in:

₇ Bayerischer Rundfunk: Online shopping: Reduce returns | Gut zu wissen | BR, YouTube, 01.01.2020, Web, 20.01.2020 at 13:08, in:

₈,₉,₁₀,₁₁ JDA & Centro /YouGov: Returns in German Online Retail, available at [22.01.2020].

₁₂,₁₃ B. Asdecker: Statistics Returns Germany - Definition, available at [22.01.2020].

₁₄ EHI Retail Institute (2018): What happens to returns? (Accessed 11 Jun. 2019), available at [22.01.2020].

Coffee box Suggestions for improvement Newsletter

* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *