Send it back – Brits will even return used pants

Londoners worst for ordering clothes with every intention of sending the items back

Half of UK shoppers buy clothes knowing they’ll return them after wearing

Many admit to returning used underwear, Newcastle is worst 

One in six men wait a fortnight or longer to wash pants

This has been a ‘throwaway’ society for decades, but now it seems the Brits are becoming more of a ‘throw it back’ one.

Many people order clothes knowing almost certainly that they will send them back. And we are not just talking about those who order two or three sizes to ensure they get a garment that fits.

No, some people just order something smart so they can take a selfie for social media distribution and then send it back. How shallow can you get?

Some will order clothes just to take a selfie of themselves wearing them. Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer from Pexels

As if these findings are not bad enough, it appears our standards of hygiene could do with a re-think.

A large number of Brits admit to returning underwear after they have worn it. The people of the UK are serial offenders when it comes to returning items of clothing after wearing them with 55% of those surveyed admitting to buying clothes with the intention of returning them after they’ve been worn, while 5% of those surveyed say they have returned underwear after use (which equates to a projection of 3.3 million). 

The survey*, conducted by Suit Direct, has revealed the nation’s spending habits with participants admitting to how much they spend on occasion outfits.The results revealed that the nation is obsessed with returning items after wearing them, no matter which part of the body they cover.

Those in the capital are the worst for buying clothes with the intention of returning after wearing, with 76% of Londoners admitting to this. Second on the list is Birmingham with70 %, followed by Newcastle and Edinburgh (54%), Glasgow and Southampton (51%), Sheffield (50%), Leeds (48%), Manchester (45%) and Liverpool (37%).

And while it’s majorly frowned upon in shopping etiquette, Brits across the country are returning items of underwear after they’ve worn them.

Newcastle’s residents are the worst for this act with 9% admitting to doing it. Edinburgh takes second on the list of shame with 6%, followed by Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Sheffield (5%), Plymouth (4%), and Belfast, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester (3%).

When it comes to other matters of cleanliness, the UK has some startling washing habits with 16% of men only washing their underwear once every two weeks or later, with 1% washing their pants only once a year. 

Men from Sheffield are the least hygienic when it comes to washing their smalls with 16% owning up to washing their underwear once every two weeks or less frequently. Among Londoners, 14% admit to waiting a fortnight or longer to wash their pants, followed by Birmingham and Cardiff (13%), Belfast (11%), Bristol and Southampton (10%).

Social media proves to hold a strong influence over purchasing habits with 5% of Brits buying clothes to look good on social media and almost one-in-10 making a purchase after being persuaded by an influencer online. 

Generation Z are most affected by this with 15% buying clothes to wear them for social media and 14% persuaded by a social media influencer to make a purchase. 

Millennials spend the most time searching through their wardrobe for date outfits at an average of 48 minutes per date. They’re also the biggest spenders and the generation that would rather buy designer clothes than high street items. Nearly a third (29%) buy clothes to feel more attractive, compared with only 15%of over those aged more than 55. 

Despite all this spending, a third of millennials think they don’t own enough clothes even though 40% admit to buying an outfit knowing they’ll return it later.    

In the battle of the sexes, men spend the most on clothes with £951.85 spent a year compared with £888.62 spent by women a year, with a third of men confess to arguing with a partner about buying clothes. Men are most likely to return clothes after wearing them with more than a quarter (28%) admitting to this, in contrast to only 18% of women. 

Shoppers in London (£134), Birmingham (£127) and Edinburgh (£122) spend the most on date-night and think a suit or a dress are the most attractive outfits, whereas people in Plymouth (£62), Liverpool (£70) and Brighton (£82) spend the least on their date-night clothes. 

Director of E-Commerce at Suit Direct, Simon Lewis, commented: “This research shows that as well as the rise in online shopping, there’s also considerable interest in social media influencing purchases. This is one of the largest disrupters of our industry and also splits generation shopping habits significantly.  

“It’s also interesting to see that despite the range of styles and brands available at our fingertips, suits and dresses are still the most preferred outfit for a date. Shoppers are willing to spend more than £100 for these.”

Worst cities for buying clothes knowing they’ll return after wearing

  1. London 76%
  2. Birmingham 70%
  3. Edinburgh 54%
  4. Newcastle 54%
  5. Glasgow 51%
  6. Southampton 51%
  7. Sheffield 50%
  8. Leeds 48%
  9. Manchester 45%
  10. Liverpool 37%
  11. Brighton 35%
  12. Belfast 33%
  13. Norwich 27%
  14. Plymouth 27%
  15. Bristol 26%

*Censuswide survey involving 2,000 adult participants with the number of those involved split equally across the UK’s cities, ages and gender.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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