Zara introduces return fees as customers ‘count every penny’

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Thursday 12 May 2022 19:00

Zara is trying to push shoppers into a more sustainable way of shopping by introducing return fees, CityA.M. understand.

The retailer, which is owned by the world’s largest fashion company Inditex, has introduced a £1.95 fee for product returns at third-party delivery points.

However, customers can still return online orders at any Zara store for free, which a spokesperson says is what “most customers do.”

It is understood that the retailer has introduced measures to reduce the environmental impact of ‘last mile’ transportation and wants to encourage shoppers to return clothing to stores.

Fast fashion retailer Boohoo admits shoppers returned clothes more than expected in its latest results.

The fast fashion industry is getting more attention because of its adverse environmental impact.

“Basically, returns are a huge issue in terms of clothing waste and fashion’s impact on the planet,” said Ali Moore, of the non-profit sustainable fashion campaign Love Not Landfill. CityA.M.

Fashion production produces 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions with the industry emitting more carbon than international aviation and ocean shipping combined.

Moore adds: “Every time a garment is returned, if it is damaged or stained in the process, it is difficult to put it back on the shop floor as it was.

“Online shopping and return issues are getting worse. People order a lot of things and use their bedrooms as dressing rooms. It contributes to textile waste and it’s a real problem.”

The campaign group will watch with “real interest” to see if the bill helps increase sustainable spending. However, Moore said he “didn’t know” whether the allegations would be “a proper intervention or not.”

H&M and boohoo retailers said they would not comment when asked by CityA.M. if they could rule out introducing a similar fee.

While returns aren’t a new issue for retailers with an online presence, rising logistics costs mean there’s “logic” in expecting customers to “pay for returns the same way they fund their own trip to the store,” Fraser Thorne, chief executive of the Edison Group, said.

He added: “However, this is against the backdrop of a very strong headwind for the consumer sector and it takes confident brands to increase costs to customers at a time when they count every penny.”

An analysis of around 200 UK retailers by parcelLab found that around 76 per cent of brands offer free returns.

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