More than 10 per cent of Christmas gifts are expected to be returned to the seller this year after some well-intentioned gifting missed the mark.
This amounts to between $2.5 billion and $3 billion worth of unwanted presents that will be exchanged or returned in the days after Christmas, the Australian Retailers Association estimates, or about 11-13 per cent of the overall total spend.
ARA chief executive Paul Zahra, said the bulk of returns would be direct exchanges so wouldn’t affect the bottom line for those retailers.
“Exchanges are typically far more common than refunds in the Christmas period because it’s about finding a more suitable gift, rather than a cash refund,” Mr Zahra said.
Clothes make up a large chunk of total returns as consumers look to swap items for different sizes, colours and styles.
Mr Zahra said most retailers were pretty flexible with their returns policies at this time of year due to the nuanced nature of gift-giving.
However, under consumer law refunds and exchanges are ultimately at the discretion of individual retailers if people just change their minds.
Customers have a right to a refund or exchange products that are damaged, faulty or don’t do what they are supposed to do.
To make returns easy, consumers are advised to keep receipts – digital if possible, as they are easy to search and keep track of – and leave tags on and packaging in original condition.
For those worried about revealing the price of their gift, most retailers were offering gift receipts, which identify only the transaction and purchase.
Consumers have also flocked to the shops to make the most of Boxing Day sales, with Australians expected to splurge $23.5 billion in stores and online during the annual discounting period.
The record-high spending spree is expected to be a 7.9 per cent increase on last year’s post-Christmas shopping, which covers the period from December 26 to mid-January.
A record Boxing Day spend is anticipated as consumer look to take advantage of discounted goods even as the cost of living soars.
Travellers on the hunt for cheaper airfares over summer are also in luck, with budget airline Jetstar promising sales on more than 80,000 domestic and international fares over 48 hours.
Qantas has also promised discounts as part of a five-day domestic airfare sale.
Australians are being warned to spend within their means to avoid entering the new year saddled with debt they can’t afford in the face of rising interest rates.