More UK retailers charging fees to return items bought online

Returns parcel delivery man of a package through a service and customer hand accepting a delivery of boxes from delivery man.
Returns will now cost you when shopping with some retailers. Photo: Getty

Several retailers including Mountain Warehouse, THG (THG.L) and Moss Bros are now adding a charge for shoppers who return items bought online.

Menswear retailer Moss Bros, sportswear retailer Mountain Warehouse and online retailer and tech group the Hut Group (THG) have introduced fees for consumers returning purchased items, according to The Telegraph.

THG, which owns brands including Lookfantasic, MyProtein and Glossybox, now charges £2.99 per order for returns while Mountain Warehouse introduced a £2 fee from late October.

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Meanwhile, Moss Bros said that it had brought in a fee after a review of the wider market. Its customers can opt for a free Royal Mail service or pay £2.99 for a courier to pick up the item.

Mountain Warehouse introduced a £2 charge for orders made after 29 October, which is deducted from the total refund.

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More companies are expected to follow suit, particularly in fashion, where there has been an increase in returns rates.

The move comes after retailers Zara and Boohoo (BOO.L) introduced charges to send back items last year amid a wider shift in the industry to recoup the accelerating fulfilment costs involved in online returns.

According to specialist ReBound, one in three fashion items bought online are sent back. This is around double the rate of shop-bought goods.

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"For years, customers have treated fast fashion retailers as a two-stage transaction. Buy multiple sizes of the same items and send back the ones that don’t fit. This is costing a lot of money and the only way to discourage this activity is to start charging customers to return products,” Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said.

“Although this action risks dampening demand, more retailers are going down this path and so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary."

KPMG estimates that by 2020, up to half of the clothing bought online was being returned. This was costing businesses around £7bn every year.