Boohoo’s crocodile tears over ending free returns

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Boohoo has joined the growing ranks of online stores to start charging its customers for returns.

A Boohoo spokesperson has defended its decision to the BBC, saying: ‘As the cost of shipping has increased, we’ve had to look at where we can adapt without compromising what our customers love most, the convenience of shopping with us and the great value that our brands offer. This has meant that we will be applying a charge of £1.99 to returns so that we can continue to offer great prices and products and do this in a more sustainable way.”

However, the home delivery expert ParcelHero says Boohoo has likely been planning the move for some months. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘As long ago as May, when Zara revealed it was introducing return shipping fees, Boohoo’s decision became inevitable. The company had previously complained about the level of “exceptionally high” returns and we predicted: “Logically, it may become one of the next retailers to introduce a returns charge.”

Returns are costing UK retailers around £60bn a year. Shoppers have had a good ride with free returns. The practice of “wardrobing”, wearing an item once and then sending it back, has almost become the norm for 10% of online shoppers, our recent research has found.

‘Now that the Covid online sales bubble has, if not exactly burst, certainly deflated, free returns are again becoming too much for retailers to absorb. Ironically, just as online retailers are seeing profits fall, “wardrobing” is booming again now that people have resumed socialising. As a result, it’s highly likely that remaining UK online fashion retailers will swiftly follow suit.

‘Boohoo has also been clever in differentiating its returns charges, announcing returns are free for its premier customers. That’s an intelligent way of incentivising customers to join up to its loyalty programme.

‘For more information on the full impact of returns on retailers large and small, don’t miss ParcelHero’s report, ‘Retailers Reach the Point of No Returns’ at  https://www.parcelhero.com/content/downloads/pdfs/returns/returnwhitepaper.pdf