January 2nd is being dubbed ‘Wing Back Wednesday’ as thousands of unwanted gifts are sent back to stores. Many Brits use the first day back in reality after Christmas to return items – and last year the parcel comparison site ParcelHero saw double the average volume of parcels being shipped in the first few days of January.
Clothes and footwear topped last year’s list of unloved items being sent back to the retailer, with some items worth many hundreds of pounds, reveals the home delivery specialist.
Says David Jinks MILT, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, said: “While it’s an unwelcome chore for the unlucky recipients of all these unwanted presents it’s very bad news for retailers too. Our recent report, Retailers Reach the Point of No Returns, revealed returns cost retailers £60bn a year; with the worst time being the first week of January.
“Smaller online businesses have been left reeling after Christmas as shoppers demand they pay for all returns, not just faulty goods. Our research reveals half of all shoppers believe retailers should foot the bill for all returns, even if they have simply changed their minds about a purchase, or not liked a gift.
“As 8% of shoppers admit to returning several items a month, peaking after Christmas, small retailers say they are losing money on all returned items.”
But Jinks adds it’s perfectly fair they everyone should use their legal rights to ensure they are not left with damaged or non-working items received at Christmas, and the retailer must pay return costs on these. “People have 30 days, that’s January 23rd for an item bought on Christmas Eve, to notify the seller there is a fault, under the Consumer Rights Act, for automatic refund or replacement of an item received damaged. That applies to items bought online and in store.
“And even better, a number of Britain’s favourite stores have promised a returns period of beyond 30 days. Marks & Spencer says any items purchased after 8th October can be returned before 13th January 2019; Amazon says any item bought between 1st November and 31st December can be returned by 31st January, and John Lewis says any gift bought between 21st October and 24th December can be returned until 28th January, even if it’s simply unwanted or unsuitable rather than faulty. To its credit, the store also allows people buying in store to ask for a gift receipt so that the recipient can also return the present.”
Explains David: “No store has to extend its returns period; it’s a goodwill gesture which we applaud. However, once it has advertised its extension period, a store is legally obliged to adhere to the new returns date.”
But Jinks concludes such generous returns policies are fine for large retailers but would push smaller traders into the red. With some small stores forced into even videoing the packaging of items to prove what was sent this Christmas, David says: “Many small specialist stores will go out of business if we continue to make them pay for unwanted item returns.”
You can read the full report on the impact of returns in ParcelHero’s survey report, ‘Retailers Reach the Point of No Returns’ at www.parcelhero.com/returns.