Shoppers are being hit by delays and extra fees of up to £5 on fashion items shipped from the EU.
Top retailers including & Other Stories, Asics, Sezane and Goodhood have blamed Brexit for the delivery chaos, with hold-ups lasting days or even weeks.
In some cases, parcels with the wrong documentation are being returned to sender when they reach the border. The main cause of the delays is understood to be new paperwork and extra customs and border security arrangements.
Shoppers are being hit by delays and extra fees of up to £5 on fashion items shipped from the EU. Lorries are pictured above at a clearance centre
Under new rules, anyone sending parcels from the EU to the UK needs to fill in forms including proof of origin and the reason for sending the package.
Retailers selling to Britain now have to pay customs duties and fill out declaration forms, as well as registering for VAT in the UK. VAT relief on imported goods under £15 has also been abolished.
The import headaches come as shops see a spike in online orders while Britain is in lockdown.
Problems are being compounded by high levels of sickness among postal workers due to Covid.
Meanwhile, some retailers and delivery firms are charging fees to cover the cost of the extra red tape. Parisian fashion brand Sezane told customers that ‘due to Brexit’ all UK orders will be charged a £5 admin fee.
Courier firm TNT is slapping £4.31 on all shipments to and from the EU, rival UPS is charging £4.50 per package and DHL is insisting on €5 per shipment. DPD, which said one in five parcels had been returned because of paperwork issues, is charging £3.50 on packages to cover ‘clearance, handling, and processing costs’. It is unclear whether such costs will be passed on to shoppers.
& Other Stories, which is owned by Swedish fashion giant H&M, admitted it had suffered delays ‘for a limited period’ because of Brexit. Asics and Goodhood also warned online customers about Brexit hold-ups.
A senior retail source said: ‘Some European retailers have clearly said it’s too much hassle to deliver to the UK and slapped big delivery charges on posting to us.’
James Hookham, of the Global Shippers Forum, said: ‘These delays will diminish in time as familiarity breeds content with the process, or contempt at the new prices.
‘But everyone is in novice mode at the moment so delays are inevitable for a while as the new arrangements bed down.’ Catherine Shuttleworth, of retail specialists Savvy Marketing, said delays could mean opportunities for UK-based brands to ‘steal shopper share.’
…And UK’s mail faces more red tape
Anyone sending packages to the EU from Britain also faces new checks that could result in extra costs and delays.
Individuals and retailers mailing parcels need to fill out customs declaration forms – although letters, postcards and documents are usually exempt. The recipient may then have to pay customs or VAT charges and a handling fee.
The charges will depend on the country, whether the package is a gift or commercial goods and its value. Goods under €35 – which were previously exempt from VAT – are now taxable.
Complex product origin rules mean some items are subject to tariffs depending on where their contents were sourced from.