Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have been consigned to the past for at least another year, but that doesn’t mean the seasonal spending is over.
As well as any last-minute presents, there’s the small matter of the Boxing Day and January sales to navigate. Which can translate as anywhere between retail nirvana to a nightmare, depending on how you view shopping.
An added issue is that at this time of year there’s the increased likelihood of you wanting to return an item - particularly with unwanted gifts. Retailers have responded with increased flexibility over Christmas, taking into consideration people buying their presents as early as September.
We’ve researched the Christmas returns policies of 25 of the UK's biggest retailers to give you the lowdown. It’s a good idea to remember the law with returns policies:
- No retailers are bound to offer a refund or exchange if you have simply changed your mind about a purchase. The majority do have a ‘goodwill returns policy’, but this isn’t required.
- However, if an item is faulty you are protected by your statutory rights and entitled to a refund or exchange.
Will I need a receipt?
Proof of purchase is usually important with the occasional exception, but if needing a receipt is clearly stated in a returns policy of a shop (we’ve highlighted the ones we found who do this below) you won’t be able to get a refund without one (gift receipts are usually fine). So try and keep hold of them all. Also many will expect the item(s) to be in a ‘resaleable condition’, which essentially means they can sell it on to another shopper.
You are able to get an exchange or refund with certain retailers without a receipt, as a few do offer this policy. We didn’t see any evidence of retailers openly stating this though on the online pages where they display their returns policies, so it may be on an ad hoc basis from shop to shop. If you find yourself in that situation try calling or emailing their respective customer service department.
There’s always a hiccup or two you could come into contact with as well. Certain retailers, M&S being one example, may not accept returns in their standard stores for items bought at outlet shops. Food generally is exempt from these refund or exchange policies. And sale purchases, which will include Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases, may be governed by different returns policies than normal as well (we've highlighted where this is the case below).
It’s also always prudent to enquire at the time of purchase, but here are what we’ve discovered for some of the major retailer’s policies:
|Shop||Christmas Returns Policy||Extra Notes|
|Amazon||All purchases from 1st November to 31st December can be returned by 31st January.||This doesn't count for mobile phone contracts, but is applicable for all third party sellers on Amazon as well.|
|Argos||Anything bought from Oct 10th onwards can be returned by Jan 11th or 35 days after purchase.||Items can be returned online (for free) or in store. Original delivery charges won't be refunded if bought online.|
|ASOS||All order between 1st November and 24th December can be returned by 31st Jan for full refund.||All returns are free.|
|Boohoo||All orders placed from the 2nd to 24th December 2019 can be returned up until 15th January 2020 (standard returns policy is 14 days)||All returns are free, and can be done via Royal Mail, Hermes or Collect+.|
|Boots||All unused items can be refunded within 35 days of purchase.||If the item was despatched directly from supplier returns policy reduced to 28 days, and needs to be returned to supplier direct not Boots.|
|Clarks||Anything bought from 8th November onwards can be returned up to 31st January||Returns available in store or online.|
|Currys||You can return any unopened product until 14th January 2020 if purchased between 30th October and 24th December 2019.||Can be returned in store or collected from home. There are certain restrictions with the former.|
|Debenhams||Returns up till January 31st for items bought between 24th October and 24th December.||Certain items are only eligible for refunds if faulty (pierced earrings, alcohol etc).|
|Game||All purchases made between November 1st and December 24th can be returned by January 31st.||They do a partial refund policy if the value of the product purchases has reduced (eg missing cables).|
|HMV||All purchases made in November or December can be returned by January 31st.||All exchanges open in store from December 26th.|
|John Lewis||Up until 28th Jan for items bought between 21st October and 24th December.||Full refund if the item is still resaleable, and you have the delivery note or receipt. If you don't it'll be a gift card for the value of it's last selling price.|
|M&S||Anything bought from October 10th onwards can be returned by Jan 11th or 35 days after purchase.||For sale items 35 days is reduced to 14.|
|Monsoon||Standard 30 day returns policy, but extended to 22nd January for any purchases bought between 21st October and 21st December.||Online purchases need to be returned to online warehouse, not in store.|
|New Look||Purchases between 31st October and 24th December valid for return up until 31st January||Sale items are exchange only, and no returns will be processed on Boxing Day|
|Next||Any December or January purchases available to return until 6th January or 28 days after purchase.||Sale items reduced to within 14 days of purchase|
|Pretty little thing||All orders placed from 3rd October 2019 through to the 24th December 2019 can be returned up until 31st January 2020.||All returns are free and they have six different ways you can return goods to their warehouse|
|Primark||Standard change of mind policy of refund or exchange if item is resaleable up to 28 days after purchase||Having a receipt is essential. Underwear, earrings and other items can only be returned if faulty.|
|Smyths||All purchases from September onwards can be returned by 21st January (standard policy is 28 days)||Returns can be done online or in store. Items must be in resalable condition for refund or exchange.|
|Superdry||Standard policy of return within 28 days of purchase.||Can be returned online or in store, regardless of where it was purchased.|
|The Entertainer||You can return any unopened product until 21st January 2020 if purchased between 1st October and 24th December 2019.||Proof of purchase essential - so keep your receipt.|
|TK Maxx||All purchases from 11th October to 24th December can be returned by 21st January (anything else 28 days).||A receipt is essential.|
|Topshop & Topman||Orders placed between 22nd November and 23rd December 2019 can be returned up to and including 31st January 2020.||Returns available in store and free online.|
|Urban Outfitters||All orders made after 18th November will have until the 18th January for refunds and exchanges.||In store purchases must be returned in store, whereas online can be posted or returned in store.|
|Very||They have a standard 28 day return policy, with an extension of unused products bought between 7th October 2019 and 23rd December 2019 available to return by 10th January.||Items returned free via post office, click and collect or home collection|
|Waterstones||30 day return policy, but anything purchased between 8th November and 1st January extended till 31st January||Refunds or exchanges offered only if the item is in pristine condition.|
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.