Customers in the UK will return £813 million worth of Christmas presents before the big day even arrives, the Post Office has claimed.
In most cases it is because people decide they no longer want to give these items as gifts and instead decide to return them. The Post Office has revealed it is expecting its biggest ever pre-Christmas returns surge in the seven days leading up to 25 December.
The research revealed that 31% of consumers had still not decided what to purchase for the big day while 75% of gift returns are by people still hunting for the perfect present.
Return to sender
More than two out of every five presents will be purchased online this Christmas and one in five shoppers will return unwanted items within a few days of buying.
With festive sales also creeping forward each year and people increasingly taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, more bulk-buy and return options exist than ever before.
Women are more likely to return unwanted gifts well in advance of Christmas, with one in six revealing they send back gifts up to ten days before. This provides them with enough time to continue the hunt for presents and means they face less stress as a result.
Men, meanwhile, love to leave it to the last minute with one in eight waiting until two days before Christmas to make a return while one in 14 delay returns until Christmas Eve.
Buying multiple items online and then deciding which ones they preferred was a popular tactic favoured by many people but was especially true among women picking party outfits and other clothing as 35% picked up to six outfits with the intention of returning the ones they liked least.
A changing approach
The research showcases a trend shift from customers who try, buy and return in stores to those who multiple buy, try and return.
Returning unwanted items is increasingly more convenient as Post Office branches and drop-off points can be found in a wide number of locations.
It also means they have more freedom to return or exchange items quickly while some people will even receive returns funding in time to purchase again before Christmas.
Overall, the trend highlights how festive shopping is becoming easier as people can save an average of five hours by shopping online rather than in stores.
The consumer also has more power to return items without ending up out of pocket, meaning they are not afraid to impulse buy more often.