Customers who are abandoning online shopping baskets at the checkout are costing retailers billions of pounds worth of potential sales.

More than one in four online transactions are being abandoned at the checkout, amounting to £34.4bn over the past 12 months, according to new research from GFS and Retail Economics.

Up from £31.5bn in last year’s research, the study found that the loss in potential sales was driven by “delivery-related concerns”.

Retail Economics said this also reflects increased caution among consumers as a result of ongoing financial pressures as well as heightened expectations when it comes to delivery options and services.

The clothing and footwear category saw the highest abandonment rate, with the under-25 demographic being four times more likely to abandon baskets in comparison to shoppers over 65.

Basket abandonment was prevalent among middle-aged and more affluent customers as well as younger shoppers.

Customers are also said to be “scrutinising service value and options to align with their needs”, with 64.5% of consumers expecting more from delivery services than ever before.

A total of 71%  said they stopped an online order due to “inconvenient delivery times”, while 47% were willing to pay more for premium options such as same- or next-day delivery.

GFS group marketing director Bobbie Ttooulis said:

Our findings expose the £34.4bn toll of basket abandonment driven by delivery issues, prompting a call to action for retailers.

“With more than one in four purchases being abandoned, meeting consumer demand for diverse delivery options is non-negotiable – especially when it’s the high-value, high-frequency 25-to-44-year-olds who are driving up abandonment rates. The imperative for retailers to adapt cannot be clearer.”

Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim added:

“Elevated borrowing costs are escalating the risk of basket abandonment, particularly among younger, middle-aged and higher-income individuals.

“These demographics are critical to retail spending, meaning the stakes for retailers have grown as consumer confidence hangs in the balance of a recovery in spending power to pre-pandemic levels.

“While the stakes are rising, there’s a willingness among economically significant individuals to pay for services that deliver value by matching their changing needs. Retailers must urgently realign delivery strategies to tap into better services that support profitability.”