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Post-Christmas flood of returned gifts begins

03 January 2018 - 10:42 by Sarah Collinson

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Although Brits spent an estimated £17 billion on presents over the course of the festive shopping season last year, it is expected that up to a fifth of these items may be sent back by the recipients.

BBC News reports that figures from Logistics Consultancy LCP suggest around £2.5 billion in unwanted gifts purchased online will make their way back to retailers.

The reasons for the returns can be varied; clothing which is the wrong size is an especially common inclusion in the items shipped back to retailers by Royal Mail and other operators.

Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of this trend, since the carbon footprint of items increases the more they have to travel. Experts also warn that retailers may not be prepared to handle the volumes of packages they will be getting back from this week onwards.

The good news is that for consumers, the existence of comprehensive online returns policies can protect people if they want to get a refund or make an exchange. But research shows that outlets which do not treat customers with care during this process might lose a lot of business as a result.

Almost half of people said that they would stop shopping with a retailer that made them pay to return an unwanted gift. So businesses must be willing to take the hit in order to secure loyalty from people carrying out safe shopping online.

Study spokesperson, Stuart Higgins, said that many firms were happy to pay this price, since failing to do so could leave them worse off in the long run. He also said that it was important to prepare for the returns season, beginning on the 2nd of January this year, as processing the incoming packages was not always straightforward.