Online retailers have warned that a new European directive aimed at protecting consumer rights could have a devastating effect on the growth of etail in the UK.

Join the fight to Ditch the Directive

371 retailers, ranging from industry giants like Marks & Spencer, Arcadia and Boots to tiny minnows, have joined etail trade body IMRG in opposing the Consumer Rights Directive, which if implemented would impose massive new burdens on retailers that would cripple their ability to operate.

Retail Week has launched Ditch the Directive, a campaign to persuade the EU to abandon those provisions that will make life a nightmare for online retailers.

Key planks of the directive include:

  • Forcing retailers to meet the return costs of orders of more than E40 (£34.80)

  • Obliging retailers to sell to all the member states of the EU

  • Making retailers process refunds within 14 days

  • Doubling the time that customers have to inform the retailer they are returning goods to 14 days

Leading online retailers slammed the proposals. “It’s absolute madness,” said M and M Direct chief executive Steve Robinson. “It’s not economical for businesses to ship across Europe.”