£3.2bn of Christmas orders are being returned despite missing return dates

After a busy festive period, retailers are now grappling with the the aftermath of unwanted gifts being returned and this year’s tally could add up to £3.2 billion, ParcelHero reveals.

However, the traditional Christmas returns avalanche on the first working day of the year was less fevered than in previous years due to many people working from home or off sick because of the surge in Omicron cases. Nonetheless, the delivery specialist warns that people should not put off returning unwanted gifts much longer, as the returns grace period has already ended for some stores.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “Shoppers are expected to return £3.2bn-worth of unwanted gifts purchased online this month. Over 10% of all gifts purchased from 1 November to 24 December will wing their way back to the retailer. We are urging everyone to read the small print on their receipts, however, as some stores’ return windows were far less generous than others,”

“Shoppers can return any online purchase up to 14 days after delivery with no quibbles, and any faulty store-bought or online item up to 30 days after purchase. But that 14-day period is likely to have already ended or be close to finishing. Shoppers who purchased items as late as Christmas Eve on sites without extended deadlines only have until this Friday, 7 January, to send back unloved gifts or notify the seller they are returning unwanted items.

“The good news is that many of our favourite retailers introduced special Christmas returns grace periods for items bought both online and in-store, but some are less generous than others.

In addition, Harvey Nichols deadline for returns is January 5 for items purchased between 11 November and 22 December while Selfridges customers have already run out of time, with its grace period ending on January 4.

READ MORE: Consumer spending jumps past pre-pandemic levels amid online boom

Other retailers including Game, House of Fraser, Littlewoods, Net-a-Porter, Next and Very end their deadlines window on January 9.

The most generous stores are the likes of Amazon, ASOS, Debenhams, Gap, The White Company and Warehouse, who are giving until the end of this month to return unwanted items for refund or exchange. In the majority of cases, this includes all items bought from the beginning of November through to 24 December.

Shoppers returning unwanted goods should also consider that heavier items may need special treatment. Such items will have been delivered in packaging that works perfectly for specially designed vehicles but probably won’t be adequate if it’s returned using a normal courier network.

“We strongly recommend anyone returning a heavy item reads our guide to packaging and shipping heavy items.”

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