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ASOS shares dive as millennials react with horror to returns policy changes

ASOS is cracking down on customers who it suspects of buying clothes to wear just once and then ship them back
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Youtubers and Instagram ‘influencers’ always seem to have new outfits on …

ASOS PLC (LON:ASC) shares dropped on Thursday after the online fashion giant changed its returns policy, much to the horror of Youtubers and Instagram ‘influencers’.

In an email to its customers, the £3bn company said it would close down any accounts where it had detected “unusual patterns of return activity.”

“[If] we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads – way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order – then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.”

The news seemed to scare shoppers, with some vowing to hold back their orders for fear of being singled out.

Barclaycard carried out a survey of 2,000 people last summer which found that almost one in ten UK shoppers admitted buying clothes to wear once with the sole aim of posting a photo to social media before returning their purchases shortly after.

This type of activity, which Barclaycard called a “hashtag moment”, is what ASOS wants to clamp down on.

“Returns are [an] enormous part of the cost of doing business in [the online fashion] sector and hence profitability,” said Shore Cap analyst Clive Black, who estimated that as much as a third of all online purchases are returned.

According to data collated by global returns management platform ReBOUND, the cost of returns to UK retailers between Black Friday and Christmas Day last year was £2.4bn.

ASOS, which is due to publish its interim results on Wednesday, saw its shares fall 4% to 3,176p on Thursday.

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