The German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (BEVH) expects free returns in fashion retail to end soon. The reason: the increased prices for packaging and transport. The fashion chains Unigio and Zara have already introduced return shipping fees. According to the BEVH, other dealers could follow.

The Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order (BEVH) assumes that free returns in fashion retail will soon come to an end. “We expect an end to the free returns, which have been common up to now and which customers also expect,” said a spokesman for the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on Friday. He cited increased costs as the reason: “The high prices for transport and packaging mean that retailers are passing these costs on to customers to a greater extent.”

In general, the boom of the Corona years in the fashion industry is over. Last year, the largest Japanese clothing retailer, Uniqlo, introduced a return fee of EUR 2.95 per package. A few days ago, Zara, the best-known fashion chain of the Spanish Inditex group, followed suit with a return fee of EUR 1.95 per return.

According to BEVH, other companies will follow. “If return shipping costs remain high, Zara and Uniqlo will be the first, but not the last, to pass costs on to their customers,” the spokesman said. Upon request, Amazon, Zalando and Otto announced that they did not intend to charge for returns.

“At a time when they are additionally burdened by the rise in energy and various goods, we will certainly not ask our customers to pay extra for returns that are subject to a fee,” said a spokesman for the Otto Group.

Marco Atzberger, returns expert at the Cologne trade research institute EHI, on the other hand, advocates returns that are subject to a fee: “That’s the right way,” he told the “SZ”. Björn Asdecker, head of the returns management research group at the University of Bamberg, also welcomes the move. “Maybe there’s a start now,” he said.

Germany is the European returns champion. According to the EHI, the return rate is up to 75 percent, with fashion at least every second package being returned on average.

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