Woman shopping at her laptop

High Scroll Dropouts: ‘Fantasy Basket’ trend sees Brits abandon £39.4bn worth of items in online shopping baskets during pandemic

  • Commitment-shy shoppers have abandoned £39.4bn worth of items in online ‘fantasy baskets’ in the past 12 months – more than doubling since 2018
  • High delivery costs (37 per cent), cyber window shopping (26 per cent) and lengthy authentication processes (24 per cent) are key drivers of dropouts
  • Brits are more reliant on online shopping (34 per cent) due to the pandemic, leading to many being ‘tabbed out’ – when too many shopping pages are open at once
  • Incentives, such as discounts or free delivery (53 per cent), and faster payment processes (15 per cent) help consumers avoid a shopping shirk

‘Fantasy baskets’ pose an increasing problem for retailers as Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals that shoppers abandoned £39.4bn worth of items in online shopping baskets during the pandemic – up 116 per cent in just three years*.

High delivery costs added at the last minute are to blame for 37 per cent of abandoned purchases, with cyber window shopping (26 per cent) and lengthy payment authentication processes (24 per cent) also increasing the likelihood of dropping out at checkout.

Over a third of Brits (34 per cent) have become more reliant on online shopping during the pandemic, with many also more cautious when spending (25 per cent). Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) say having more time on their hands, and using the virtual world as a distraction from lockdown (17 per cent), has led them to ditch full online baskets.

In the last year, commitment-shy consumers have piled homewares (34 per cent), smart clothing such as suits and dresses (31 per cent), gadgets (29 per cent), party outfits (23 per cent) and holiday wardrobes (23 per cent) in online baskets. Many have logged off leaving items unpurchased due to getting distracted by other shopping (22 per cent), or forgetting what’s in their online basket altogether (18 per cent).

Fickle Fashionistas only swipe right on mobile apps

The nation’s least loyal shoppers were found to be those browsing for fashion, with 70 per cent abandoning a fashion purchase. Entertainment (56 per cent) and health & beauty (54 per cent) also regularly end up on the shopping scrap heap. Those shopping for travel (7 per cent) or white goods (6 per cent) are least likely to build ‘fantasy baskets’ without a purchase.

Laptop purchases are most frequently abandoned (31 per cent), 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 per cent of shoppers admit to.

Dedicated retailer apps are bucking this trend, with shoppers least likely to fill fantasy baskets (5 per cent) on a smartphone or tablet, while 22 per cent use only apps from their favourite retailers, thereby reducing the amount of competition per purchase.

Discounts in exchange for downloading apps (23 per cent), less distractions (18 per cent) and easier navigation (18 per cent) all decrease the likelihood of ditching a purchase.

Apps aren’t the only way that retailers can adapt. Of the 400 retailers contacted as part of the Barclaycard Payments research, around half (53 per) cent have introduced a digital wallet (e.g. Apple Pay), built a mobile optimised website (49 per cent), made improvements to an existing app (47 per cent) or invested in their ecommerce payment offering (42 per cent) in order to reduce the level of basket abandonment.

Investing in an app led to a drop in basket abandonment of 16 per cent, while ecommerce improvements (15 per cent) and introducing ‘swipe to buy’ (15 per cent) were also effective.

However, Brits worry about the security of the ‘swipe to buy’ function, now popular on many mobile apps, should their account be compromised (35 per cent). Concerns include ‘swipe to buy’ resulting in the wrong goods being ordered (34 per cent), items being delivered to the wrong address (31 per cent), or being over charged (25 per cent).

The sectors most affected by fantasy basket builders:


Number of shoppers abandoning a purchase in the last year


70 per cent


56 per cent

Health & beauty

54 per cent

Home furnishings

40 per cent

Homewares & DIY

48 per cent

Accessories (e.g. handbags, shoes, purses, wallets)

47 per cent

Food & Drink

46 per cent


44 per cent


44 per cent

Gifts (flowers, cards)

43 per cent

Dropout hour

Brits are most likely to abandon a purchase at 4pm, and spend an average of 3 hours and 48 minutes shopping online per week – a 30 per cent jump as a result of lockdown. People typically discard 5,865 items in baskets every year, averaging 6.9 items in a basket at any one time – more than doubling from three items in 2018.

Marc Pettican, President of Barclaycard Payments, said, “Online shopping has traditionally been the convenient alternative to bricks and mortar, but as ecomm 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 checkout 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.”

Clare Bailey, independent retail expert, 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.”

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Polly Ewell on 07882 088493 or polly.ewelll@barclaycard.co.uk

*Merchant figures are taken from a survey conducted by Opinium of 400 retailers between 31st March to 8th April 2021 on behalf of Barclaycard Payments. Retailers were senior decision makers (senior managers or more senior) in retailers, SME and larger retailers.

Consumer figures are taken from a survey conducted by One Poll of 2,000 adults between 7th April to 12th April 2021, on behalf of Barclaycard Payments.

Average cost of items abandoned in baskets per month = £105.60. Multiplied by UK adult population of population of 52,673,433 = £5,562,314,524.8. This figure multiplied by 12 for total yearly figure = £66,747,774,297.6. Taking 59% of this (the amount of people who abandon baskets) = £39,381,186,835.6.

This is compared to the a average cost of items abandoned in baskets per month found in a Barclaycard Payments survey in 2018, which can be found HERE. The average cost of items abandoned in baskets was found to be £18,242,309,693.

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit. In the UK we process nearly £1 in every £3 spent using credit and debit cards, and in 2020 we processed over £267bn in transactions globally. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.



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