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H&M considers charging a returns fee for goods bought online

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Returns via Pexels

Fast fashion retailer H&M has said it is considering charging fees for returns for goods bought online. As return numbers surge - up to 30 percent of all items bought online are sent back – free shipping is biting into retail margins.

In a call with analysts H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said: “It all depends on how it’s received by the customer. So that’s why we do a test to see if that is something to fast track.”

H&M in an email to CNN Busines said it will test a return fee in a few of its markets “but it will only apply to online returns. If a customer returns a product that was bought online in-store, there is no fee.”

Rising costs in sourcing, manufacturing and shipping are affecting H&M’s bottom line. Charging a fee for online returns is first and foremost a cost-saving exercise, not one to drive sustainability or reduce CO2 emissions.

H&M’s current online returns policy states “H&M will refund most items, provided it has not been damaged, soiled, washed, altered or worn and that all labels and tags are attached.”

In the U.S., an estimated 2.6 million tonnes of returns were disposed of via landfill in 2020, according to The Conversation. “Cheaply manufactured fast fashion items can typically exhibit quality and fit issues, so are synonymous with returns.”