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H&M becomes the latest retailer to start charging for online returns

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

The clothes chain, H&M, has started charging customers to return unwanted items from its online shop.

It follows on from other retailers including Next, Zara, Uniqlo, and New Look which all charge when customers send back or return unwanted items.

Next, for example, charges £2.50 for every unwanted collection of items while at Zara it’s £1.95.

H&M, which is one of the biggest clothing chains in the country, now charges £1.99 if a customer wants to return something, either to a shop or to the online warehouse, but there is no charge for items that are damaged or faulty.

The money is taken from the customer’s refund, unless they have signed up to the H&M free loyalty scheme.

The change, first reported by the BBC, came in during the summer.

A message on the H&M website says: “There is a £1.99 return fee per return parcel to store or online for non-members which will be deducted from your refund.

“You will not be charged the fee if an item is determined to be faulty or incorrect so please make sure to note that information when registering your return. Please note that if you paid a delivery fee, this will only be refunded if you return all items from the original order.”

‘Unsurprising to see this business move by H&M’

Online shopping grew rapidly during the pandemic when people weren’t able to visit physical shops. But one in three items are now returned and it costs around £20 for each return, according to data from delivery management firm NShift, leaving retailers with a big bill for the cost of unwanted items.

Nick Drewe, retail expert and founder of online discounts platform, Wethrift, said: “It is unsurprising to see this business move by H&M, as they’re one of a line of popular retailers who are taking the same approach, with competitors such as Zara and Boohoo introducing returns charges in 2022.

“This year, retailers have faced many challenging circumstances, such as the cost-of-living crisis putting a strain on consumer spending, as well as a significant increase in the cost of overheads. It is a trend that will likely continue in order to combat costs.

“Operational costs, such as the energy cost for running distribution centres, have increased significantly. Hence why retailers have begun implementing these small incremental charges, to recoup costs where they can.

“Whereas some competitors such as ASOS are still offering free returns, this retailer benefits from being solely online, meaning that they don’t have to factor in the associated costs with running multiple stores across the country, as H&M does.

“Interestingly, customers can access free refunds from the retailer if they register to the H&M loyalty scheme. This decision has obviously been made to incentivise more sign-ups to the scheme, which can then be used for further marketing and promotional activities that the retailer will launch in order to remain competitive during the cost of living crisis.”