‘Return wave’ floods online sellers

‘Return wave’ floods online sellers

Online retailers are grappling with ‘the biggest-ever wave of January returns’, according to returns provider ZigZag. The percentages are much higher than a year ago, even though shoppers have to pay for returns more often.

ZigZag, acquired by Global Blue three years ago, bases its observation on user data from of its returns management platform. The company is headquartered in the United Kingdom. In that country, the number of returns from December 24 to January 2 was 16 percent higher than the same period a year ago. In the United States, the number of returns was a staggering 26 percent higher than a year earlier.

Return peak

On January 1 and 2, ZigZag recorded an absolute peak: British online sellers received 42 percent more returns than in the first two days of 2023. Al Gerrie, ZigZag’s CEO, said that the influx is not surprising in the current economic climate. It is indicative of how consumers are trying to keep spending down.

42% more returns for British sellers on January 1 and 2.

“While we are not expecting returns to be up 42 percent over the whole of January, these figures show we can expect to see one of the busiest Januarys ever for returns. It is possible that shoppers are returning Christmas gifts and purchases now with the intention of purchasing them cheaper in the January sales – a complex situation that retailers will need to carefully navigate”, said Gerrie.

Paid returns

Of all the online returns ZigZag registered during the Christmas period, almost half (48 percent) were paid returns. This is a lot more than a year earlier. In Germany and France, for example, paid returns increased by 13 and 20 percentage points, respectively.

Almost half of all returns (48%) in the Christmas period were paid returns.

And 63 percent of ZigZag’s retail clients now include a paid returns solution in some capacity. This demonstrates that paying for returns is becoming the new norm. Online retailers would much prefer products not to be returned at all, because handling costs are much higher than customer contributions. This is why many retailers are now using paid returns. Avoiding  returns is a top priority for many online retailers.



Arjan van Oosterhout has been contributing to Ecommerce News Europe since the spring of 2023. He writes news articles for the website on a freelance basis.

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