Delayed deliveries cost UK retailers £3.9billion in Christmas sales

18th Dec 2017

20 million British shoppers encountered delays with deliveries during last Christmas, according to new research, translating into a potential loss of £3.9billion for UK retailers. This is up 13% from the same analysis last year.

The figures released by The Institute of Customer Service reveal these experiences influence customers’ perception of retailers, affecting whether they return for their Christmas shopping this year. 

Over a third (38%) of consumers surveyed received their Christmas deliveries later than expected in 2016, with over half (52%) up to five days late.

Of those experiencing delays, the proportion of customers missing out on high-value items is significant, with almost half (42%) spending over £300 with a retailer who consequently failed to deliver the gift on time. 

The research also highlights the correlation between punctuality and reliability of deliveries and customer retention. Almost three-quarters (71%) are less likely to shop again with retailers who fail to deliver on time, clearly indicating that delays will lose customers.

The general consensus amongst the UK public is that a high quality delivery service is a basic expectation when buying online, and 83% do not expect to have to part with cash for a specified delivery slot.     

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service commented: “Late deliveries are a recurring problem, and it is getting worse year on year. There are several components involved in getting the customer’s delivery delivered on time and it should be a priority of the delivery service and the retailer to ensure that this is done. Both businesses need to take responsibility, or face further financial losses next year. 

“In an increasingly competitive market online – both throughout the festive season and beyond – retailers should prioritise providing customers with a consistent and reliable delivery service. Failing to do so could negatively impact their reputation and sales the following year, with wider Institute research revealing that improvements in customer service could add £81.5 billion to the UK GDP in just 12 months.”

To find out more about how to deliver an excellent customer service experience, visit


The Institute of Customer Service commissioned TLF Research to speak to 2,000 consumers in September 2017. 

Notes to editors 

*Figure arrived at through:  

• UK adults = 51.7m in total (ONS)

• % of people/shoppers who experienced late delivery – applying this % to total adults in the UK from ONS stats: 20,059,599 UK adults experience late deliveries

• Of those, % who wouldn’t shop again with that retailer – applying this % to the number we created above: 13,949,344 UK adults put off shopping with that retailer

• The average amount spent on each item that was delivered late multiplied by our figure above: £3,919,765,664 potentially lost in revenue through late deliveries

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Peck, Sophie Lanning, Bethan Davies

E: [email protected] 

T: 020 7010 0877 (Rebecca Peck), 020 7010 0826 (Sophie Lanning), 0207 010 851 (Bethan Davies)

About The Institute of Customer Service 

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers’ experience and their own business performance. The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 500 organisational members – from the private, public and third sectors – and over 4,000 individual memberships. For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to

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