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Decisive consumers lowering the value of returned goods, data shows


There may have been an increase in the number of Christmas gifts and sale items returned – up 48% on 2021 – but the total value of returned goods has decreased by over a quarter (26%), according to ZigZag Global.

The return management software provider said these numbers demonstrate that during the current ‘cost of living crisis’ consumers are continuing to shop but are spending less on more, and are being more decisive when it comes to buying higher priced products.

Furthermore, the company predicted that as we head into 2023 consumers will still be willing to shop, but that there will be a strain on disposable income and this is changing buying behaviours.

“Consumers are demanding more quality from their everyday spending and fast fashion items. They are more than happy to return low-value items if they don’t meet expectations,” said Al Gerrie, CEO at ZigZag.

“Consumers are still buying luxury items, despite the economic conditions, but these figures show there’s less impulse in this area, with consumers making much more conscious and considered choices.

“I expect 2023 will be an interesting year for the retail industry, with more retailers looking to introduce paid returns, and consumers wanting more flexibility and choice in their return options in exchange. Watch this space”.

Additionally, as more retailers started charging for returns in 2022, ZigZag said it’s no surprise that paid returns were up by 158% this year compared to last year with consumers largely willing to cover the cost of returns. Consumers are also embracing more sustainable returns with 68% choosing paperless returns during the festive break.

Locker drop offs were up 108% this year which further represents the rise of the sustainable shopper. Locker returns eliminate emissions from missed deliveries and makes courier journeys more efficient by travelling to a single location. Shoppers once again headed to lockers to drop off unwanted gifts in the early hours of Christmas morning. Despite the recent postal strikes, returns via the Post Office were also up by 65% YOY.

From a regional perspective, aside from seemingly hard to please Londoners, the biggest returning areas over the festive period were Glasgow, Birmingham, and Manchester, with the latter seeing an impressive 51% rise in the number of returns. In stark contrast, shoppers in Liverpool were least likely to return items, with a 41% decrease in return volumes in the region.

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