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LONDON – The value of returned goods has increased by 74 per cent in the past two years – with clothing the most returned items. Analysis of Black Friday and Cyber Monday returns which compared 2021 with 2019 found there has been a 129 per cent increase in the total volume of goods returned. Jeans were the most frequently returned items while winter coats dominated the most expensive items sent back by customers. The cheapest item returned was a two-pack of socks bought for 6p.

The findings, based on analysis by returns specialists ZigZag, mark a concerning trend for fashion given rumours that many returns are never put up for resale and there are even stories of returned goods being destroyed.

ZigZag Global said it works with a wide range of large scale retail and fashion brands including Selfridges, Boohoo, Karen Millen and Superdry.

ZigZag said customers are becoming more confident with technology and claims customers are “putting sustainability at the forefront, with 60 per cent choosing paperless returns using a QR code.”

Any environmental benefits from this shift to paperless returns will likely be far outweighed by the damage to the environment of returning items.

In a press release, ZigZag said: “Jeans were found to be the most common item to be returned from Black Friday sales. This may come as no surprise as shoppers are increasingly buying items in multiple sizes or colours to try them on at home, with the intention of returning at least one item. Known as bracketing, ZigZag found earlier this year that a third of online shoppers (33 per cent) now do this.

“Of course, it is the consumer’s right to change their mind and return products. However, ZigZag also found that ‘wardrobing’ and ‘staging’ are also increasing in popularity. Respectively, this is where the shopper buys a product to wear once and then returns it or uses it to take a photo for social media before returning the product(s). Retailers are increasingly looking at tech solutions to combat retail fraud.”

Commenting on the Black Friday trends and challenges retailers face at this peak period, Al Gerrie, CEO of ZigZag added: “We have seen some really interesting shifts in consumer behaviour compared with Pre-pandemic. It is clear that buyers prefer to buy and return online now and that speed of refund has become extremely important. The first Black Friday returns have already been sent back and customers are expecting instant refunds after they drop items off. 

“Retailers need to turn these products around quickly to get goods back in the supply chain and re-sold before Christmas. We have also noticed that there is a much bigger shift towards consumers selecting paperless returns via a QR code – almost 60 per cent of shoppers selected this method.”

Research was conducted on behalf of ZigZag Global by independent research agency, Dynata with 1,116 shoppers.

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