Zara wants its largest market to pay for online returns

Customers in Spain will now have to pay €1.95 (S$2.80) to return an order. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID - Inditex, the owner of fast-fashion chain Zara, will start charging Spanish shoppers for returning items bought online, mirroring a strategy it had previously rolled out in most of its other markets.

Customers in Spain will now have to pay €1.95 (S$2.80) to return an order, unless they take it to a bricks-and-mortar shop or third-party drop-off points where returns remain free. The fee applies to all Inditex brands, which include Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti, according to a company spokesman.

The firm – based in A Coruna, Spain, and is the world’s biggest clothing chain – had started charging for returns in the earlier part of 2022 in countries where it has a smaller presence than in Spain, including Britain, France and the United States. Spain accounted for 14.2 per cent of the group’s overall sales as at July 2022.

The shift to end free returns gained traction across the apparel industry in 2022 as retailers sought to contain costs amid inflation accelerating across the globe.  

Spain was among the Western European countries that recorded the highest inflation rate in the earlier part of 2022, having reached double digits during the summer months. It has since dropped to 5.8 per cent in January, below most other nations in the region.

To be sure, the strategy was a headache for retailers from the get-go as returns are costly because of the labour needed to have them shipped back, inspected and put up for resale.

Inditex’s major rivals, such as Hennes & Mauritz and Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo, charge for online returns in Spain. BLOOMBERG

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.