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£1.5bn of Christmas orders returned following delivery disruption, says ParcelHero


Post-Christmas returns for the first working day of the year were up over 25% on the same day in 2022, with delivery firm ParcelHero suggesting this jump was due to late deliveries.

It estimates that around £1.5bn worth of items are now winging their way back to retailers, mainly because they missed Christmas delivery. The usual Christmas delays were compounded by the impact of strikes in the traditional mail service, heavy snow and Covid issues in China.

The delivery company added that even with a drop in gift purchases, due to the cost of living crisis, the number of returns handled by courier networks is still significantly higher.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “The chief reason is undoubtedly the fact that many items failed to arrive in time for Christmas. Some retailers, such as Currys, dropped their traditional mail options to ensure timely deliveries but that created knock-on delays in the alternative courier networks.

“In fact, with thousands of parcels still languishing in the system, many of us are still waiting for items to arrive ten days after Christmas. If that’s happened to you, don’t leave it too late to inform the seller your item has not arrived or they might refuse to reimburse you or send a replacement item. Then you may face a battle to get your money back.”

Furthermore, Jinks recommended that consumers do not wait the 30 days to return their products, and contact retailers about gifts that didn’t arrive.

“Remember, you should contact the retailer, not their courier service. Until the item arrives safely with you, it’s the seller’s responsibility”, he advised.

“If your item was intended as a present, don’t be shy about asking for a full refund, rather than a replacement. Of course, sellers will try to steer you towards a replacement item, but you don’t have to agree to that. You are within your rights to cancel an item and get your money back if you don’t receive it within 30 days, or on the date of the “second chance” delivery if you have already complained.”

Many retailers extended their returns period over the Christmas period, providing a special grace period.

ASOS will be accepting items purchased between 14 November and 24 December until 24 January. Likewise, until 31 January, Amazon will replace or refund items purchased between 01 November and 31 December.

Jinks concluded that consumers must also be aware of the type of packaging used to return some items. He stated: “TVs or microwaves are frequently delivered using the retailer’s or manufacturer’s specialist service, with vehicles designed for carrying such items. The original packaging supplied works perfectly for specially designed vehicles but probably won’t be adequate to withstand the demands of a busy courier network.”

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