H&M cuts out free returns
Starts in Norway and Great Britain.

In May, it became known that it would no longer be free to return clothes bought online at Zara. The Spanish mega-chain began charging an amount equal to the cost of the return.

Then Grazia pointed out that customers who engaged in wardrobe-wearing, that is to say wearing the garment with the label in one go and then sending it back, had become a growing problem.

Now it is H&M that is cutting out free returns.

On Friday, Business of Fashion announced that the Swedish clothing chain will initially test this out in Norway and Great Britain. Then it may become the norm globally.

The change is taking place as part of a number of cost-saving measures the fashion giant is taking these days.

- It is one of the things we are testing. Then we will see how our customers react to it, says CEO of H&M Helena Helmersson in an interview with BoF.

In an email to Melk & Honning, press manager at H&M Sweden Louise Ödeen will not answer how long they will test the new arrangement.
- But the fact that we do this is completely in line with a general trend we see in our industry at the moment.

- You will still be able to return goods free of charge in-store.

Both the price of raw materials and shipping have increased sharply in recent years, in addition to the price of energy. H&M is said to have also disappointed in the latest quarterly report, which led to the share price being the lowest in almost 18 years.

The fact that the Swedish clothing chain, unlike Zara, does not commit to completely stopping free returns may be a good idea.

A survey conducted by Klarna in 2019 showed that over 60% of us would never shop from an online store that did not offer free returns.
- The return rate is generally far too high in online shopping. It has become common to order two or three garments in different sizes, try them on at home and return the ones that don't fit, because many online stores have free shipping and returns, Anja Bakken Riise, head of Framtiden i våre handels told Melk in May.

- The high proportion of returns does not just mean more emissions from shipping. There is also the risk that there are more items that cannot be sold again. Some clothes are not suitable for repackaging. And there isn’t a need to have major mistakes or deficiencies before the goods are given away to outlets or charity, she continues.

According to her, it is voluntary to report what is done with returned goods. It, therefore, becomes difficult to know how much is sold again and how much ends up being thrown away.

This summer, The Guardian wrote that 2.6 tonnes of returned goods end up straight in landfill every year.
This is because it is time consuming and expensive to process the returns. Buttons may have fallen off, cardboard inserts need to be inserted again, tags need to be sewn on again, and they need to be folded, packed, and registered in the system. Often, according to the British newspaper, it was then easier to throw the item away.

September 26, 2023