H&M Doesn’t Want You to Use Their Bathrooms

Back last December I noted that H&M in Walnut Creek closed their bathrooms, blaming shoplifting, however they are now semi-open, although you’ll need to contact an employee to let you in as they still have the locks.

I would like to share a story that may shed some light on H&M’s global bathroom policy. While vacationing in Tokyo last month, my family stopped by a huge, crowded four-story H&M to do a little shopping. Around that time my toddler son needed to go to the bathroom. Noticing that the men’s section was on the top floor, I decided to head up there as I figured that would be the closest bathroom. After waiting an unseemly amount of time for the elevator, we get to the top, and I quickly asked a Japanese H&M employee where the bathroom was. Turns out, there are no bathrooms in the department-sized Tokyo H&M. Incredulous, I asked whether there were any women’s bathrooms. No, nothing she replied. So with my son getting antsy, I told her my son needed to use the bathroom, and asked her whether she could tell me the location of the nearest bathroom in the area. She told me that she could not tell me. Not that she didn’t know, but that it was against store policy to tell as it wouldn’t be fair to the other store. This despite my little kid having to go badly.

In the end, despite getting very close to having my kid go potty right in the middle of the floor, we ran as fast as possible outside and found an electronics store nearby that I remember had a bathroom. But I’ll always associate H&M with their stingy bathroom policies around the world.

Am I over-reacting here with H&M bathrooms? Why do other stores, with their own shoplifting issues have bathrooms, but H&M Walnut Creek is locked down? Since this should be Friday Question of the Day, what do you think about large stores locking down or closing bathrooms?

  • Elizabeth Mackey

    I think it is terrible not to offer bathrooms to customers! There are a lot of people with medical conditions that need to use the restroom more frequently than others, as well as young potty training children. I think it should perhaps be that you have to ask at least for a key, so that if they are so concerned about shoplifting, they have made a personal contact with the potential shoplifter, if they are going to do something sketchy in the bathroom.
    When I lived in Paris, the H&M was a nightmare as well, so it is universal for them. There are no places to sit even, when you are with someone shopping, and if you even dare sit on any of the display edges, you are read the riot act in less than ten seconds flat!
    So, no you are not over reacting, I think it is terrible that stores do this!

    • http://beyondthecreek.com Beyond the Creek

      Good point about people with medical conditions as well. I can understand small stores not having a public one, but giant 4 story ones? Shame on them! At least the Walnut Creek one allows you in if you ask an employee to let you in.

  • Jim

    as to shoplifting…BS…I worked loss prevention at a major retailer and the biggest losses occur in the fitting rooms they just don’t want to have many people use them and locks “discourage use”

    • http://beyondthecreek.com Beyond the Creek

      Without a doubt, that makes sense. Thanks for the info!

  • over thewater

    I’ll let my little uns at their displays tomorrow…that will teach them!

  • Sometime Shopper

    Having locked bathrooms with employee-granted access seems to me the best middle course to take. That way, customers and kids in need have access, and people are able to extend their shopping time and spend more money — but at the same time, it would allow stores to control access if they’re worried about increased risk of shoplifting or damage to merchandise or the liability risk of improper use of the facilities (as in some admittedly very rare but real-life cases of nutcases using retailers’ bathrooms for drug use, preying on children or other crimes). The only business reason I can think of to NOT allow this is that stores are probably so understaffed these days, the corporate bigwigs want every warm body to be out on the floor pushing the merchandise rather than stepping away from the floor or the register for a precious few minutes. But I think a store loses more in sales and goodwill by not allowing supervised use of the facilities.