Shoppers left £39.4 billion worth of items in their online shopping baskets in the last year without checking them out, which is a figure that's more than doubled since 2018.
A poll of 2,000 adults found high delivery costs (37%), cyber window shopping (26%) and lengthy authentication processes (24%) are key drivers for failing to check out.
But more than a third (34%) have become more reliant on online shopping during the pandemic, with 25% also more cautious when spending.
And nearly a fifth (18%) of those polled by Barclaycard Payments said having more time on their hands, and using the virtual world as a distraction from lockdown has led them to ditch online baskets.
One in five has logged off leaving items unpurchased due to getting distracted by other shopping or forgetting what's in their online basket altogether (18%).
The nation's least loyal shoppers were found to be those browsing for fashion, with 70% abandoning a fashion purchase.
Entertainment (56%) and health and beauty (54%) also regularly end up on the shopping scrap heap.
Those shopping for travel (7%) or white goods (6%) are least likely to build 'fantasy baskets' without a purchase.
Marc Pettican, President of Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly half of the nation's credit and debit card transactions, said: "Online shopping has traditionally been the convenient alternative to bricks and mortar.
"But as ecommerce has boomed during the pandemic, so too has the number of purchases abandoned at the check out.
"An increase in choice, slow check out processes, and websites which are difficult to navigate have all contributed to shoppers deserting items at the last minute.
"A lot of this is down to frustrations when faced with various check out hurdles, such as cumbersome payment authentication processes which can require a number of steps to complete.
"Retailers can alleviate this by making their payment processes as stress-free as possible, which will help combat basket abandonment, boost sales and increase shopper satisfaction at the same time."
Sectors most affected by fantasy basket builders
- Fashion (70%)
- Entertainment (56%)
- Health & beauty (54%)
- Home furnishings (40%)
- Homewares & DIY (48%)
- Accessories – e.g. handbags, shoes, purses, wallets (47%)
- Food & Drink (46%)
- Gadgets (44%)
- Tech (44%)
- Gifts – e.g. flowers, cards (43%)
Brits are most likely to abandon a purchase at 4pm and spend an average of three hours and 48 minutes shopping online per week – a 30% jump as a result of lockdown.
People typically discard 5,865 items in baskets every year, averaging around seven items in a basket at any one time – more than doubling from three items in 2018.
Laptop purchases are most frequently abandoned (31%), often a result of being 'tabbed out' – searching for similar items at different retailers simultaneously to find the cheapest and fastest delivery options – which 75% of shoppers admit to.
Independent retail expert, Clare Bailey, said, "Many people have found themselves with more time on their hands over the last year, combined with a lack of access to non-essential retailers.
"This – alongside the steep rise in online sales – has led to virtual shopping becoming an outlet for distraction and browsing, with less intention to buy.
"While shoppers are leaving behind more fantasy basket items as a result, these findings provide invaluable insight that could help retailers buck the trend.
"For example, consumers are less likely to drop out at check-out when retailers invest in a dedicated app, offer seamless payment processing, and simple authentication systems."
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