3.5million hold off Christmas shopping until salesSavvy shoppers should check returns policies

24 December 2011

Sale shopping

One in ten cash-strapped consumers will be celebrating a late Christmas as they plan to buy some of this year's gifts in the January sales.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'Squeezed budgets mean many people are planning to head to the January sales to buy late Christmas presents.'

He warned: 'People should look out for returns policies in stores and online to avoid getting stuck with unwanted items.'

Post-Christmas sales

Research from Which? found three in five people plan to go shopping in the post-Christmas sales.

Among the top items people intend to buy are clothes and accessories, health and beauty products and home entertainment software such as CDs/DVDs and games.

Retail rights online surgery

To help consumers prepare for any shopping surprises, we'll be running a live Q&A with lawyers from Which? Legal Service on 29 December.

Sign up to a so we can alert you on the day.

Refused refund in sale

A fifth of people told Which? they are frustrated by shops not making it clear that their returns policy is different while the sales are on, while the same percentage are irritated by the returns policy not being displayed at the point of purchase. People also complained about shop staff’s lack of knowledge when it came to returning faulty goods.

Richard Lloyd advised: 'Stand your ground if you’re refused returns on goods that turn out to be faulty, as you have the right to return these, even when they're bought in the sales.'

January sale tips

Which? Legal Service has provided the following tips for consumers when shopping in the sales:

1. Check the returns policy: Always check the returns policy, and if shopping online, read the terms & conditions before you place your order.

2. Pay by credit card: Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act gives you valuable extra protection for items costing over £100 and less than £30,000.

3. Always keep the receipt: If you return an item you don't like during the sales without proof of purchase you'll be refunded the most recent sale price, so always keep the receipt.

4. Watch out for 'no returns on sale items': A retailer cannot try to limit your rights in sales, so if you've bought goods in a sale, you can still return them if they are faulty, provided the fault is not the reason for the reduction. If they refuse, they are committing an offence.

5. Avoid 'never-ending sales': Not all sales are genuine, for example, some retailers have products that are permanently on 'sale'.  Trading standards can prosecute shops with bogus price reductions.

Free consumer rights iPhone app

Be prepared when you hit the shops by downloading our free consumer rights iPhone app – you'll have your shopping rights information at your finger tips.

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