H&M to start charging shoppers for online returns

A general view of an H&M store on in Sheffield, UK (Mike Egerton/PA) (Mike Egerton / PA)
A general view of an H&M store on in Sheffield, UK (Mike Egerton/PA) (Mike Egerton / PA)

High street favourite H&M has revealed that it will start charging shoppers who decide to return items they have bought online.

Customers will now have to pay a fee of £1.99 to return their online purchases regardless of whether they make their return in person by visiting a store or virtually by shipping it back to the brand.

The only shoppers who will be exempt from the new fee will be those who are H&M members and those whose items have turned out to be faulty or incorrect.

The fashion retailer isn’t the first brand to make the call. Some of its rivals, including Zara, Boohoo, Next, and Uniqlo, introduced online return charges a while back.

Talking to the BBC, a spokesperson from H&M revealed that the charge had been introduced during the summer season.

As for the reason, there are a number of factors that would have inspired the move. Firstly, the rise in online shopping during the pandemic years meant a substantial increase in returns, as customers had no way of trying on items to gauge if they fit correctly.

Secondly, as brands are pressured to be more sustainable, putting charges in place that make customers think harder about their purchases can have a positive impact on the environment.

Plus, returns can be troublesome for retailers, as not only do they have to cover the return shipment costs, but they have to pay for warehouses to stock the returned items and pay more in salaries because it takes longer to process returned stock than new stock.

However, discussing the news with the BBC, retail expert Jonathan De Mello highlighted that the move might cause H&M to suffer a backlash.

He explained that groups of people, including disabled individuals, those with vulnerable immune systems, and older people with mobility issues, who rely on online shopping, will be understandably upset by the new fee.

The news comes shortly after H&M revealed that its sales had flatlined in the last quarter, despite its biggest rival Inditex, which owns brands like Zara, having a strong performance.

In line with this, the retailer also slowed down its price increases in recent times to battle cost inflation.