Major retailers are already bracing for a tsunami of returns during and after the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Stores typically offer free returns for holiday goods albeit with some exceptions. However, some companies are rethinking this strategy amid rising transportation and other inflationary costs.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), retailers incur $166 million merchandise returns for every $1 billion in sales. On top of that, retailers lose $10.30 to return fraud for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, according to the world's largest retail trade association.
Shoppers walk through the Easton Town Center shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., on Fri., Dec. 10, 2021. This season they may have to pay return fees as retailers battle inflation. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
While some companies have actually relaxed their return policies this season, easing the minds of shoppers facing painfully high inflation, others are charging a fee for certain mailed in returns.
For instance, Swedish fast-fashion company H&M Hennes Mauritz told FOX Business it was going to start testing out return fees for customers in Norway and will evaluate the response to that change.
"The introduction of return fees is a measure that is in line with a general trend we see in our industry at the moment," the company told FOX Business in a statement.
However, H&M CEO Helena Helmersson told analysts on an earnings call in September that the world's second-largest fashion retailer is planning "to test return fees in a few of the markets."
Other companies, though, have already implemented return fees. For instance, J.Crew has a flat fee of $7.50 for online returns, with some exclusions.
Similarly, Zara told Fox Business that customers who return products at any third party drop off point will pay a $3.95 fee. The company said this policy has already been implemented in many of Zara’s main markets.
Customers pay for their items while doing their Black Friday shopping at KB Toys in the King of Prussia Mall on Nov. 28, 2003 in King of Prussia, Pa. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Kohl's told FOX Business that a customer is responsible for the cost of shipping an item back to the company's fulfillment center using a parcel carrier of their choice.
According to Abercrombie & Fitch's website, customers are charged $7 if they chose to use its return service rather than returning an item in person.
"A return service is offered to our customers which helps confirm the status of your return and track its delivery progress for added security," the website reads. "Please note, for using this service, a fee of $7 will be deducted from your refund."
Comparatively, some companies are issuing even more flexible policies this year.
A general view of the inbound area of the Amazon.com MPX5 fulfillment center on November 17, 2017 (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)
Walmart recently announced that it eased up on its return policy and extended the dates for qualifying purchases. Now, certain purchases made on or after Oct. 1 can be returned through the end of January 2023. Walmart also told FOX Business that most items purchased online can be returned for free by mail.
For the first time, certain Walmart+ members in select stores will also be able to have returns picked up right from their doorstep, according to the Arkansas-based retailer.
Target said it offers "free and easy returns on most new, unopened items" within 90 days of purchasing an item. The company also extended its return window for certain products to the end of January. There is no fee associated with returning items by mail, Target said.