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£700m of unwanted Black Friday purchases regifted this Christmas

At least one of the presents under the Christmas tree this year could be an unwanted Black Friday deal, according to new research from Novuna Consumer Finance, which found that a third (30%) of Black Friday shoppers will regift items this Christmas they regret buying for themselves.

Unwanted Black Friday deals worth £707m will be regifted this month, as people prefer to wrap their buyer’s remorse up in a bow rather than attempt to return unwanted items to a retailer. 

Two in five (39%) Brits took part in this year’s Black Friday, some 2.8 million more than the 34% that planned to ahead of the seasonal sales, equating to a record-breaking Black Friday. It was particularly popular with younger generations this year, with most (53%) 18 to 34-year-olds getting involved, compared to just one in five (19%) people aged over 55. 

Similar to previous years, the most common reasons given for Black Friday spending were to get some Christmas shopping done (31%) and bag a good deal (26%). However, two in three (63%) shoppers report that the cost of living crisis affected how they spent money this year. One in four (24%) said cost of living pressures had given them less money to spend, while many others opted to take advantage of the discounts to stock up on household essentials (13%), energy saving items (13%), or to get more early Christmas shopping done than usual (18%). 

Brian Flesk, Head of Retail at Novuna Consumer Finance, comments: “Like it or loath it, Black Friday is one of the biggest days for retailers within the Golden Quarter, just as it is for the millions of bargain hunters seeking a to grab a good deal. However, pressure to take advantage of the discounts can often lead to impulsive spending with shoppers subsequently left with a dilemma about what to do with unwanted goods.”

Reduced, regretted, regifted 

Despite the popularity of this year’s Black Friday sales, a third (31%) of shoppers regret at least one of their purchases. Men are twice as likely as women to have buyer’s remorse, 43% vs 20%, and half (49%) of 18- to 34-year-olds admit there’s at least one thing they wish they hadn’t bought. Clothing (16%), shoes (13%) and computer tech (12%) were the biggest unwanted items, with a quarter (26%) of shoppers saying their partner’s annoyance at the purchase was the main reason for their regret.  

Returning unwanted items isn’t as tricky as it used to be, with most people agreeing that return policies and processes have become easier in the past couple of years. And yet, one in five (20%) people have failed to return something they wanted to in the past year, costing each of those people an average of £133 per year, citing complicated returns policies (26%), missed deadlines (26%), and even extra difficulty returning items bought on finance (13%). 

No wonder so many more Black Friday shoppers are opting to regift unwanted purchases (30%) than to attempt to return to a retailer (18%). Novuna’s research found that unwanted Black Friday deals worth £707 million will be regifted this Christmas. For each person doing so, that’s an average of £195 of Black Friday fails that will end up under someone else’s tree this year, a significant chunk of the £266 average spent on Christmas presents this year.   

“At a time when finances are being stretched to the limit, it’s good to see that many people have found a way to make the Black Friday sales work for them, albeit inadvertently in many instances through regifting unwanted items,” continues Flesk. 

“As we reflect on this year’s Black Friday sales, and the remainder of what is the busiest shopping period of the year still to come, I would urge shoppers to  think twice before making unplanned purchases , always checking the returns policy to be assured they can expect a good level of after sales service.” 

Londoners have the most Black Friday regret, with half (49%) of sale shoppers wishing they hadn’t bought what they had, followed by people living in Scotland (44%). The Northern Irish and North Westerners were the least regretful Black Friday shoppers, with only 16% and 22% respectively having doubts about what they’d bought.  

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