Challenges for H&M: The Impact of China, Russia, and Shein on Retailers’s Bottom Line

Challenges for H&M: The Impact of China, Russia, and Shein on Retailers’s Bottom Line

Fashion retailer H&M has a long history dating back to its first store opening in Sweden in 1947. Over the years, H&M has expanded its reach and established a significant global presence, with over 5,000 stores around the world. This growth has positioned H&M as a major player in the fashion industry, making it a force to be reckoned with in the retail world.

In addition to its widespread presence, H&M has also collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion, including Versace, Balmain, and Karl Lagerfeld.

These collaborations have helped solidify H&M’s reputation as a leader in the fashion industry and have made it a go-to destination for consumers seeking high-quality, trendy clothing.

Despite its history of success, H&M has faced challenges in recent years, as we will explore in the following sections.

H&M’s challenges during the pandemic and in Russia

Like many companies, H&M faced difficulties during the pandemic, with its net income dropping significantly in 2022, making it one of the retailer’s least profitable years in over two decades. This drop in income resulted in the company laying off 1,500 employees.

In addition to the challenges posed by the pandemic, H&M also faced a major setback in Russia. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, H&M decided to close all of its stores in the country and stop online sales to Russia.

This decision was made due to operational challenges and an unpredictable future in the country. Russia was H&M’s sixth largest market, accounting for approximately 5% of the company’s global sales. The closure of stores in Russia had a significant negative impact on H&M’s results.

The invasion of Ukraine also contributed to inflation, which increased raw material and logistical costs for H&M. These challenges in Russia have put further strain on the company, which is already facing difficulties due to the pandemic.

H&M’s decision to close its stores in Russia was a major blow to the company’s bottom line. The challenges posed by the pandemic and the geopolitical tensions in Russia have made it a difficult time for H&M, but the company is still working to find ways to overcome these obstacles and move forward in the face of competition from fast fashion players like Shein.

H&M’s challenges in China

H&M has faced additional challenges in China, another important market for the company. In 2021, the retailer faced a boycott in China after concerns were raised about alleged forced labor and discrimination against ethnic minorities in China’s cotton production.

This boycott was led by Chinese consumers and supported by online retail apps such as Tmall, Pinduoduo, and JD, as well as map apps like Baidu, which removed H&M from their platforms.

The boycott and removal from online platforms had a significant impact on H&M’s business in China, and the company has yet to fully recover from this issue.

Furthermore, the Covid lockdowns in China also led to store closures, adding to the challenges faced by H&M in the country.

H&M’s Current Situation and Future Prospects

H&M currently faces intense competition from online fast fashion retailers like Shein, who offer even lower prices and quicker access to new designs. Shein operates on an online-only model, which allows the company to reach a wider audience and offer its products at a lower cost.


In contrast, H&M relies heavily on in-store sales, with only about 30% of its sales coming from online. This has put pressure on H&M to find a way to stay relevant and continue to attract customers.

To address these challenges, H&M has taken steps to improve its business, including closing underperforming stores and investing in digital.

The company recognizes the importance of having a strong online presence in today’s retail landscape and is working to build up its digital side to reach a wider audience.

Despite these efforts, the future of H&M remains uncertain. The fashion industry is unpredictable and can change quickly, making it difficult to predict whether H&M will be able to regain its popularity with consumers.

The company will need to continue to adapt to the changing retail landscape and find ways to stay relevant in the face of competition from fast fashion retailers like Shein, who have a distinct advantage with their online-only business model.

H&M faces a challenging future, with intense competition from online fast fashion retailers like Shein and the uncertainty of the fashion industry.

However, the company is taking steps to address its challenges and improve its business, and it remains to be seen whether it can regain its popularity with consumers.