Gift Focus inc Attire Accessories - July/August 2022

150 With the majority of consumers welcoming the end to free returns, this will only serve to help the planet and boost business for independent retail Missguided is the latest fast-fashion retailer to fall victim to supply chain problems, rising freight costs and increasing competition from rivals, having fallen into administration. Administrator Teneo said in a statement: “Like many retailers, Missguided has suffered from increased supply chain costs, general cost inflation and softening consumer confidence in an increasingly competitive market.” While Missguided has now found a new buyer in Sports Direct owner Frasers Group, the fact remains that fast fashion is increasingly failing to find consumer support. And while the large retailers will undoubtedly remain, a perceptive shift is emerging. This is also shown in the recent news that Zara is ending its free return policy. With COVID over and in-store shopping returning, the Spanish retailer will now charge for returns, unless taken in-store. Citing environmental reasons, retailers no longer need to encourage consumers to shop online, therefore the ‘free returns’ carrot on a stick is starting to become a thing of the past, with a sustainability focus finally becoming a must-have rather than an afterthought. According to a recent study from Cycleon, consumers are also on board, with the study finding almost two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. consumers being willing to pay extra when returning a parcel to subsidize greener carrier options. And not only is the beginning of the end of free returns good for eco-friendly reasons, it’s also only going to be positive for independent retail. Long have indies had to endure a David and Goliath battle with their mass market competitors with bigger budgets, better logistics and greater financial freedom to offer consumer perks. Likewise, with the end of free returns, consumers will begin to gradually assess their purchasing habits in terms of cost and environmental reasons. And heading to their local independent rather than doing a mass online order with the knowledge the majority of their purchase will be returned within days, may increasingly become a shopper’s buying route of choice. INDEPENDENT GROWTH