Has Social Media Forced Retailers to Start Charging for Returns?

Bonjour mes amies! How many “Hauls” (a haul is a video in which a person discusses recently purchased items, sometimes going into detail about their experiences during the purchase and the cost of the items they bought) do you see while casually (not searching for hauls) on social media?

Hauls have become the norm and almost mandatory in the world of content creation to gain and maintain a following.

It is undeniable that the algorithms (on all platforms) favor overconsumption. While it is commonly thought that all content creators are gifted and paid by the retailers to post “hauls,” in most cases, that is inaccurate.

A majority of nano-social media content creators/influencers spend their money to keep up with the rapid production of what’s “on trend” to ensure that their content, trends.

Avec beaucoup hauls, beaucoup clothes, and very little desire to be seen in the same OOTD (outfit of the day) and limited storage, is it realistic to believe that everything that is purchased is kept? I would be remiss if I did not note the number of returns I have initiated, attempting to partake in the haul-du-jour (click here to watch my $6000 worth of returns vlog.)

According to the National Retail Federation, for every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns. In addition, for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, they lose $10.40 to return fraud.

The end of FREE RETURNS has entered the chat.

While many retail chains refuse to admit the role they play in overconsumption, thus the influx of trial and error orders/returns, here are five reasons many retailers have and plan on ending free returns.

1. Cost Management: Processing returns can be expensive for retailers. Handling returns, restocking, and potential damage to the returned items can incur costs. Charging for returns helps offset these expenses.

2. Discouraging Serial Returners: Some customers engage in “wardrobing” or “bracketing,” where they purchase items with the intent to use them temporarily and then return them. Charging for returns can deter such behavior.

3. Promoting Responsible Shopping: Retailers aim to encourage customers to make informed purchasing decisions, reducing the likelihood of returns. Charging for returns may prompt customers to think more critically before making a purchase.

4. Sustainability Efforts: Encouraging customers to keep their purchases can align with a retailer’s sustainability goals by reducing the environmental impact associated with processing returns.

5. Transparency: Charging for returns can help make the cost structure more transparent to customers. They know the true cost of a return and can factor that into their decision-making process.

Do you think stores should charge customers for their returns? Have you had to pay for a recent return?

Ciao for now 💋


  1. Anonymous

    It has become clear that more and more people are taking advantage of FREE returns. Like you said there are some people who order to show off; then return the product just because. I have gotten more careful of the items I purchase online so I don’t have my “return” privileges revoked.

  2. Anonymous

    Bonjour! While it may be inevitable that increased on-line shopping results in more returns, to do so for the sake of social media is a bit morally questionable! It took me a bit to figure out how the people were wearing/storing all those items! The answer is they are not.

    No, the haul and return should go away. I remember when it was a bit of a scandal for a woman to ‘buy’ a fancy dress, where for one occasion and return…same difference.

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