Zara parent Inditex since May has been charging online shoppers in select regions for returning unwanted items. On Thursday the group said it would expand the charge to its home base of Spain, one of its core markets.
A fee of 1,95 euros will be deducted from a processed refund, unless goods are dropped off at a physical store.
The cost of returns is invariably high for retailers, with some estimating processing one return costs between 10 and 20 dollars, not including the freight. Other estimates say it is up to 66 percent of the product price. Either way, it is a financial crux for most retailers, specifically for fast fashion brands who have lower margins. This is one of the reasons Primark has opted to not sell clothing and accessories via e-commerce.
Zara, Uniqlo and Next are some of the high street giants charging for returns in select markets.
Clothing comprises the largest share of EU textile consumption (81 percent) fostering the trend of using garments for ever shorter periods before disposing them. This spurs unsustainable patterns of overproduction and overconsumption, says the EU Commission, which is aiming to ‘drive fast fashion out of fashion.’
The Commission wants to minimise the rate of returns, stating it will assess in its Transition Pathway for the Textiles Ecosystem, how emerging technologies, such as digital precision technologies, could reduce the high percentage of returns of clothing bought online, encourage on-demand custom manufacturing, and in this way improve the efficiencies of industrial processes and reduce the carbon footprint of e-commerce.
The consumption of clothing and footwear is expected to increase by 63 percent by 2030, from 62 million tonnes now to 102 million tonnes in 2030, show figures from the European Commission. In the EU, the consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, now accounts on average for the fourth highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and third highest for water and land use from a global life cycle perspective. About 5.8 million tonnes of textiles are discarded every year in the EU, approximately 11kg per person, and every second somewhere in the world a truckload of textiles is landfilled or incinerated.