Boohoo starts charging shoppers £1.99 to return items

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The fast fashion website Boohoo has become the latest online retailer to start charging shoppers to return items.

Boohoo customers will now have to pay £1.99 when they send unwanted goods back, and the cost will be deducted from the amount they are refunded.

The move by the retailer, which was first reported by the Retail Week website, came into effect on 4 July.

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The fee is charged for each return delivery, not each item. If shoppers make returns from the same order on multiple occasions, they will be charged each time.

Other high street retailers including Next and Uniqlo already charge for returns, while Zara said earlier this year that it was introducing a £1.95 fee for online returns.

Asos said last month that it was facing a “significant increase” in returns from shoppers, contributing to its latest profit warning.

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Fast fashion retailers often only sell their products online, meaning customers tend to buy a range of different products and sizes to try on at home, before deciding which ones to keep.

Since online shopping boomed during the pandemic, this has increasingly become a headache for retailers, who have to process the flood of unwanted items.

Up to half of clothing bought online is returned to some retailers, with the whole operation estimated to cost businesses about £7bn a year, according to a 2020 study by the consultancy KPMG.

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Boohoo – which owns brands including Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton – warned in May it was likely to put up its clothing prices this year as it was forced to slash its sales and profit expectations, and said that its customers were returning more unwanted items.

The percentage of items returned to brands by online shoppers dipped in the early days of the pandemic, when shoppers bought more stretchy clothing and loungewear, where getting a good fit was less important.

However, with the return of social events such as weddings, and increased office working, more structured clothing has become popular again, and consumers have sent back more garments that they did not like or which did not fit.

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