H and M becomes latest retail giant to charge customers who return online purchases
After chains including Zara, Boohoo, Uniqlo and Next started charging for online returns, H and M has started to do the same.
H and M has become the latest retailer to charge shoppers who return items bought online.
Customers of the retail giant now must pay £1.99 to return parcels either in store or online, with the cost taken from their refund – but returns are still free for H and M members.
Rival retailers such as Zara, Boohoo, Uniqlo and Next already charge for online returns.
An H and M spokesperson told the BBC the move was introduced in the summer, after online shopping rose strongly during the pandemic, which led to a huge increase in the number of items being sent back because they do not fit, or were not as expected.
Analysts said other retailers were likely to follow H and M in charging for returns, with retail expert Jonathan De Mello saying: “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.”
He added that while some customers might react negatively, most would understand the need for companies to make the decision on the returns policy.
Many shoppers are also becoming more aware of the environmental impact of deliveries and returns – and fewer postal returns means fewer delivery vehicles travelling up and down with parcels.
Mr De Mello warned the policy might spark a backlash among some groups of people, such as those with disabilities, who rely on online shopping.
H and M’s website says customers will not be charged the £1.99 fee if items are determined to be faulty or incorrect and it urges shoppers to make sure to note that information when registering their returns.
The site also says its members can continue to make returns for free.
Mr De Mello added: “Particularly in the cost of living crisis, retailers need to work harder to retain customers, as people are keen to shop around for the best deals.
“Loyalty is fickle, but if you can provide clear incentives, such as free returns, then you're more likely to retain your customers.”