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Zara Says It’s Time Its Home Market Pays for Online Returns

Zara store.
Inditex SA, the owner of fast fashion chain Zara, will start charging Spanish shoppers for returning items bought online. (Shutterstock)

Inditex SA, 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 to return an order, unless they take it to a brick-and-mortar shop or third-party drop-off points where returns remain free. The fee applies for all Inditex brands, which include Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti, according to a company spokesperson.

The A Coruna, Spain based-firm, 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 the UK, France and the US. Spain accounted for 14.2 percent of the group’s overall sales as of July 2022.

Inditex rose as much as 1.7 percent to €29.3 at 9:36 a.m. in Madrid. The shares are up 4.5 percent this year.

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The shift to end free returns gained traction across the apparel industry last year as retailers sought to contain costs amid accelerating inflation 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 percent in January, below most other nations in the region.

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

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

By Clara Hernanz Lizarraga

Learn more:

Is This the Beginning of the End for Free Returns?

For much of the last two decades, online retailers have competed to offer cheaper, more convenient shopping experiences. What happens when one of the world’s biggest apparel sellers bucks the trend?

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