Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Corporate retail greed

Found this story on HuffPo which is sourced at NYT here. It’s a report of how retail clothing sellers routinely destroy and trash merchandise that is being replaced by more current styles rather than donate them to the needy. The article specifically talks about Wal-mart and H&M's habit of slashing and cutting the items to make them unusable if found, and putting them in the dumpsters - where there are scavengers waiting to sort through them.
In the bitter cold on Monday night, a man and woman picked apart a pyramid of clear trash bags, the discards of the HM clothing store that reigns in blazing plate-glass glory on 34th Street, just east of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

At the back entrance on 35th Street, awaiting trash haulers, were bags of garments that appear to have never been worn. And to make sure that they never would be worn or sold, someone had slashed most of them with box cutters or razors, a familiar sight outside H & M’s back door. The man and woman were there to salvage what had not been destroyed.

This story focuses on 2 retailers, but this practice has been around for awhile and I believe it is common. My first husband was a manager for that sports merchandise chain in the mall, the one where the employees wear the striped referee-looking shirts, you know the one. They were routinely ordered to pull certain old shoes and shirts off the racks, and cut them up so as to make them unusable before discarding - in case a dumpster-diver would find something then it would not be wearable. I guess the thinking is that for people to be motivated to buy the stuff, the company doesn't want potential customers just holding out until they can luck onto it in a dumpster.

He did what he was told, but it really bugged him, and quite a few times he broke the rules and kept some items, either for us to wear or to give away. He would have been fired on the spot for doing that. These were high-quality, pricey items that had been deemed out of style or no longer a hot seller.

Followup: H&M is now saying that they will not longer slash and discard their obsolete merch, but will donate to charity instead. Well, that’s one down. Bottom-line-driven corporate entities have no heart and soul. They will do something for the common good only if it coincides with avoiding bad PR.

1 comment:

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I know that family dollar and dollar general here in west throw them out but they also dont damage them and if anyone wants to dumpster dig for them on thursday night..they can...they dont care..cutting them up is awful..bastids.