Millennial UK shoppers forced to choose between the environment and their consumer rights new study shows

A UK study of 100 retail executives and 2,000 consumers highlights tension between keeping records of transactions and eliminating paper waste.

  • Green consumers: nearly 1 in 4 Brits aged 16-34 not taking a paper receipt because of environmental concerns
  • However, issues with returns:
    • Three-quarters (77%) of consumers who attempted to return an item in the last year had either lost their receipt or didn’t have it on them meaning they couldn’t secure a refund
    • Almost a third (30%) of respondents who attempted to return an item in the last year said that their receipt had faded
  • Sustainability a primary concern for retailers: 29% of retail executives cite sustainability as a primary concern on their agenda, specifically with regard to reducing plastic and paper waste
  • Email receipts solutions falling flat with shoppers over privacy concerns: 4 in 10 (40%) of UK shoppers prefer not to give their email address because they believe to do so would lead to unwelcome email marketing, and over 1 in 4 (27%) shoppers still had privacy concerns around emailed receipts, being unwilling for strangers to know their email address
  • pqCode launches smartphone app that aggregates existing loyalty cards and stores digital receipts, spearheaded by ex-M&S Plan A sustainability guru, Munish Datta

2nd October 2019, London, UK: today research shows that UK shoppers are often being forced to choose between environmentally unfriendly paper receipts or risking their consumer rights for refunds and returns by not taking one at all. 

The survey of 100 UK retail executives and 2,000 consumers, commissioned by pqCode and conducted by Censuswide, shows nearly 1 in 4 Brits aged 16-34 not taking a paper receipt because of environmental concerns.

However, taking care of the environment comes at a cost with three-quarters (77%) of Brits who had attempted to return an item in the last year having either lost their receipt or not having it on them meaning they couldn’t secure a refund. Almost a third (30%) of the same group of respondents said that they had attempted to return items to the store but found their receipt had faded.

The research also showed that around 3 in 10 (29%) retail executives cite sustainability as a primary concern on their corporate agenda specifically with regards to reducing plastic and paper waste. 

However, e-receipts (email receipts) are falling short with customers, with 4 in 10 (40%) UK shoppers preferring not to give their email address because they believe to do so would lead to unwelcome email marketing, and over 1 in 4 (27%) preferring not to give their email because of privacy concerns in sharing their email in public.

The study shows a need for better solutions that can complement ‘green’ in-store sustainable practices while still appealing to customers.

In response to these environmental challenges, pqCode has launched its solution: a smartphone app that aggregates existing loyalty cards and facilitates digital receipts.  

Commenting on the research, Munish Datta, Sustainability Advisor, pqCode said: “In such a challenging environment, it is no longer enough for retailers to rely on nostalgic ways of working and processes to take care of both customer loyalty and protect the environment… Paper receipts and plastic loyalty cards are unfit for purpose, while customers are more environmentally conscious than ever before.” 

James Smithdale, Founder and CEO, pqCode said: “Only by continuing to improve every aspect of the customer journey and finding new ways to engage with customers transparently, will retailers be able to acquire and retain shoppers, and their trust, in a digital age. New solutions promoting sustainability will only succeed, however, if customers retain genuine choice and can be eco-conscious without compromising other aspects of their shopping experience.”

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