£225 million of unwanted gifts will be returned this year: and time is running out to return those unloved Christmas presents, warn industry experts.
Don’t want that second juicer or Coldplay CD? This week many of us will be returning those unwanted Christmas gifts. Thousands of last-minute Christmas gifts purchased online are about to become unreturnable after tomorrow’s 14 day intenernet ‘cooling off’ period; and the International courier price comparison site ParcelHero has christened tomorrow ‘National Returns Day’, as January 6th is the day when returns reach their peak.
£225 million worth of unwanted gifts will be sent back in the UK alone this year. In the period after Christmas returns jump by 81% compared to their normal levels. Clothing items are the most returned (14.5% of purchases) and jewellery second at 11.8 %. And more and more of us are increasingly happy to send back items. 65% of consumers are expecting to return items bought online this year, compared to 51% just three years ago.
ParcelHero Head of Customer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘Astonishingly, high-street stores don’t have to accept returns unless an item is faulty. But there are different rules for online purchases, which are covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations. Many shoppers are now aware that they have additional rights if they buy their items online, and they are making full use of their powers.’
Explains David: ‘People purchasing items on the internet have a 14 day ‘cool off’ cancelation period – that period is nearly up, so customers must check their invoices and act fast.’
However, there are notable exceptions this year. A number of retailers are more lenient over the festive period. M&S are accepting returns on items bought after 14th September until 16 January, while BHS will return items purchased from 1st of October to up to 31st of January, for example. And Amazon.co.uk says it has extended its 30 day returns period so any items bought up until 31 December can be returned until 31 January.
Some items can’t be returned however, including perishables such as food and drink, as well as items such as personalised gifts, and DVDs, music, ear-rings and computer software with their seals broken. It’s also best to retain all original packaging, particularly if returning to a store. Perhaps the most fraught area of Christmas goods is unwanted gifts. To return these items you will need proof of purchase and the date ordered. If it was bought online you might need to ask he person who bought it to return it, to receive the benefit of the extra protections given to online consumers.
David says: ‘Obviously it’s tricky to confess to relatives and loved ones that you would like to return their gift, but in the long run it’s better than having to wear that terrible sweater every time they visit. In the past we might have just stuck a rubbish present in a cupboard under the stairs, or try to flog it on eBay, but with more gifts being bought online every year, people are taking advantage of the cooling off period and how easy it is to send stuff back.’
Concludes David: ‘Hopefully your retailer will have included a free returns label. However, if you are responsible for your own returned goods mailing, online couriers such as ParcelHero will organise a pick-up service from your house to the retailer – eliminating the need for long Post Office queues’.
Discover more about leading retailers’ final Christmas returns deadlines on the ParcelHero website.