State of Returns: New Expectations

Our fourth annual study on retail returns explores how consumer behavior and expectations have changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, in ways that may be long-lasting and influence loyalty.

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Download the report to learn:

  • How consumers are prioritizing convenience and predictability to fit their new routines.
  • What triggered the "loyalty shock" during the pandemic, leading consumers to shop around — and how to retain those newly acquired customers.
  • Key elements of the post-COVID playbook to help you formulate an actionable plan for Q4 and beyond.

Some key findings



of consumers are more deliberate
about what they purchase to avoid having to make a return.



of shoppers desire a printerless
returns option like a mobile QR
code — twice as many as last year.



who chose an alternative
drop-off location for their last
return like being able to consolidate errands in the same trip.

COVID-19 has accelerated some shopping trends, while slowing others. Consumers have been forced to shift towards online shopping across nearly every category and learned to plan around reduced availability of products and services, restricted movement, and safety concerns, all while adapting to more fundamental life changes like working from home while educating and caring for children — not to mention potentially dealing with economic impact of job loss or furlough.

We captured sentiments of 1,161 US consumers who have returned an online purchase in the last 6 months through an online survey, and supplemented these findings with insights based on Narvar platform data, to understand how this months-long upheaval has affected consumer attitudes towards deliveries, returns, and omnichannel shopping.