H&M has made a major change to its online delivery service. The fashion firm has become the latest retailer to charge shoppers who return items bought online.
The move means customers now must pay £1.99 to return parcels either in store or online and the cost will be subtracted from their refund. Returns will still be free for H&M members.
Rival retailers such as Zara, Boohoo, Next and Uniqlo already charge for online returns. An H&M spokesperson told the BBC the change was introduced in the summer.
Analysts said other retailers were likely to follow H&M in charging for returns. Retail expert Jonathan De Mello said: “It’s interesting that companies seem to be doing it by stealth, but it’s a sensible thing to be doing.
“It makes economic sense, as it discourages shoppers from bulk buying online products and then returning the majority of them. That’s been a real problem for companies.”
The pandemic saw online shopping soar as shops closed during the three lockdowns, but it also meant the number of items sent back increased. Returns can be tricky for retailers, because they often cover postage costs and it takes longer for warehouse staff to process returned stock.
Deliveries and returns also impact the envrionment. But the move may spark backlash from people who rely on online shopping, Mr De Mello warned, such as those with disabilities.
On H&M’s website, shoppers are told they will not be charged the £1.99 fee if items are determined to be faulty or incorrect. It urged customers to make sure to note that information when registering their returns.
It also says its members can continue to make returns for free, which Mr De Mello said reflects a wider trend in retailing towards loyalty schemes.