Yet another retail survey reveals nothing

Surveys, don’t you just love ’em. Don’t ask me what is going through consumers’ minds when they answer the various surveys and questionnaires thrust in front of them. To use an old IT phrase, the general rule with most seems to be ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’.

The latest to roll off the dubious-surveys press is from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which reveals that more than 60% of shoppers (reported on Internet Retailing) are less likely to return goods bought online than those they purchased in a store. Really.

This will be a great surprise to the many fashion and accessories retailers who sell online because one of their biggest headaches is dealing with the high level of returns – that are significantly higher than those in-store. Part of the reason for this is glaringly obvious – they have tried on various sizes in-store and bought the one that fits so the need to return it is surely zero.

While it might be the case that people say they are more likely to return goods into store than online the reality is that most of these people will undoubtedly be actually returning more goods bought online. That’s the nature of the online beast versus the store-based model. We all know that, so what exactly is this survey telling us.

I suspect it is just a sop for highighting the fact that consumers don’t know their rights in relation to buying goods online. Maybe I’m just being a tad cynlical here. But then maybe I’m no different to the people who answered the survey and are clearly showing cynicism to being asked more questions by more organisations and are giving duff answers. Or maybe, with my sarcastic hat on this time, the questions were skewed to achieve specific responses.

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