The controversy of Zara for charging shipping costs in the purchase of discounted garments

With the sales period just opened, on the night of this Wednesday the 22nd Zara began its long-awaited discounts on the web (starting today, Thursday the 23rd in the physical store) and a few minutes later the social networks echoed the controversy arising from the charge shipping costs for the first time.

The controversy of Zara for charging shipping costs in the purchase of discounted garments

With the sales period just opened, on the night of this Wednesday the 22nd Zara began its long-awaited discounts on the web (starting today, Thursday the 23rd in the physical store) and a few minutes later the social networks echoed the controversy arising from the charge shipping costs for the first time.

Inditex's flagship has started its long-awaited discounts with the novelty of charging 3.95 euros for each home delivery and also for pick-ups at the delivery point, regardless of the cost incurred. A rate that is applied leaving aside the minimum of 30 euros that previously was the limit to save said expenses and that now only applies to the purchase of garments that do not have a discount, that is, new collections.

"Free shipping from 30 euros applies only to items without discount," they explain on the Zara website and APP. Some shipping costs that do not apply to purchases made with store pickup, although it is true that during the sales period there are few establishments that have this option enabled.

This measure, which protects Inditex's profit margins in its online sales, had been in place for some time in other countries and has just been activated for the first time in Spain. Another of the measures that Zara has activated in some countries is to collect returns with home collection; although for the moment in Spain this option is still free.

This project began in October 2021 and has been gradually incorporated into thirty markets. In Europe, for example, it is already in force in Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland, among others. In these regions, the fee is around 2 euros per return. Inditex also began in October to charge for bags (always paper). Different actions that several market sources point out as measures designed to promote sustainability.

Zara's decision to charge shipping for discounted items could set a precedent. After years of free shopping, exchange and return policies to attract customers to the online channel, it seems that the sector is beginning to undergo changes. The management of returns in the world of fashion generates a significant expense for the sector, which invests in each return, from bank procedures, transport and verification of orders to cleaning and sometimes even repair of garments. A cost that in many cases is more profitable not to assume or directly remove these garments from circulation. In 2019, the online fashion giant Asos sent a message to its customers in which it warned that it would monitor those consumers who returned their purchases in bulk. Alleging sustainability reasons, he threatened to "take action", although to this day he still maintains complete flexibility with his returns.

The controversy over Zara's shipping costs did not take long to emerge on social networks, in which customers showed their dissatisfaction with the new actions that Inditex has taken, some of them also reproaching the recent closure of several brand stores, action that distances and makes access to this brand more expensive for different parts of the population.

Spanish purchasing patterns for fashion items have changed substantially in recent years. Despite the weight loss of the sales, they still account for between 35% and 45% of the volume purchased. Half of Spaniards will buy an average of between 6 and 7 products in the summer sales, devoting between €80 and €100 of their budget, according to data from the consulting firm Kantar.

The average cost per buyer was 80.26 euros in the summer sales of 2019, compared to 77.35 euros in 2021.

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