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One in five regret Black Friday purchase: how long do you have to make a return this winter?

Buyer’s remorse? Find the retailers with the most generous returns windows this Christmas and Black Friday

One in five regret Black Friday purchase: how long do you have to make a return this winter?

Last year, one in four of us bought something in the Black Friday sales, but of those, one in five said they regretted their Black Friday purchase.

The most common reasons given for regretting Black Friday purchases in the survey of 2,000 people in January 2020 were that it was an impulse buy (45%) and that they had spent too much over the Black Friday period (34%).

Fortunately, most retailers extend their return windows over the Black Friday and Christmas shopping period, giving you more time to return any presents or purchases you’re unsure about.

Some retailers, though, offer more generous returns policies than others, so it’s well worth double-checking returns deadlines if you know you might want to take something back.

Expert advice: Black Friday advice, insider tips and tricks, plus what deals are really worth your money

Here, Which? looks at the biggest high street retailers’ Black Friday and Christmas returns windows, and shares tips for taking back unwanted purchases and gifts.

Which retailers have the most generous policies?

Returning box to courier

Amazon, Smyths Toys and Tesco have extra-generous policies, allowing you to make returns up until 31 January 2021.

John Lewis & Partners’ policy is similar, with a 28 January 2021 returns deadline for products bought between 8 October and 24 December 2020.

Boots also has a 31 January 2021 deadline for items with a gift receipt, but is only offering an exchange or credit to your Boots Gift Card.

Other retailers we looked at have generous returns windows all year round.

Lakeland has a three-year guarantee on all its products, while online sports retailer Wiggle’s returns window is 365 days and B&Q’s is 135 days.

WH Smith has also permanently extended its returns window to three months in response to the pandemic.

Richer Sounds, although its return window is only 28 days, told Which? that it looks at customers’ returns on an individual basis and will ‘bend over backwards to be understanding’.

Currys PC World, M&S and Waitrose want speedier post-Christmas returns

If you buy from other retailers, you might need to make a speedy post-Christmas trip to the Post Office or in store, if and when the high street reopens.

Waitrose hasn’t extended its window at all, only allowing customers 35 days from the date of purchase to make returns, which means you’ll need to buy gifts after 20 November to be able to return it after Christmas Day.

Marks & Spencer also has a short returns window, asking customers to make returns by 10 January 2021 for purchases made from 4 October.

And if you’ve shopped with Currys PC World, you have until 14 January to return anything bought since the Black Friday weekend.

Currys PC World says its returns period gives customers good time to return unwanted gifts and will review its policy if the current lockdown is extended.

Although Aldi, The Body Shop and Waterstones offer a generous 60-day window, you’ll need to make returns early into the new year for any presents purchased around early November.

The full list of extended Christmas returns

A lot of other retailers, such as Argos, Lidl and Sainsbury’s, ask for returns around a month after Christmas.

But make sure to double-check our table of extended return dates to avoid missing out on getting your money back.

Retailer Christmas returns window Normal returns window
Aldi 60 days 60 days
Amazon Most orders shipped between 1 October and 31 December are returnable until 31 January 2021. 30 days
AO.com 100 days 100 days
Argos Purchases made between Sunday 18 October through to 25 December can be returned up until 24 January 2021. 30 days
B&Q 135 days 135 days
Boots For all refunds with the original till receipt, the returns policy remains the same for 35 days from purchase. For purchases made from 1 October 2020 with a gift receipt only, Boots will offer an exchange or credit onto a Boots Gift Card at the current selling price up to 31 January 2021. This only applies where the gift is not faulty. 35 days
Currys You have until 31 January 2021 to return any gifts you buy between 1 October and 24 December 2020. 30 days
Fat Face Any purchases made between 9 October and 18 December 2020 can be returned until 17 January 2021 as long as accompanied by the original receipt. 30 days
John Lewis Any gift bought between 8 October and 24 December 2020 can be returned up until 28 January 2021, if it’s unwanted or unsuitable. 35 days
Lakeland Three-year guarantee Three-year guarantee
Lidl Non-food items bought from 23 November 2020 onwards will have their refund policy extended until 24 January 2021. 30 days
M&S Purchases made from 4 October 2020 can be returned until 10 January 2021. 35 days
Notonthehighstreet.com All refundable goods received between 1 November and 22 December 2020 can be returned in their original condition at any time before 20 January 2021. For all refundable goods purchased on or after 23 December 2020, the normal 28-day returns policy applies. 28 days
Richer Sounds The current returns policy is 28 days for both online and in-store purchases. If any store is closed due to local or national lockdown, then customers will have 28 days from when their local store reopens (if bought in-store) to return those goods. 28 days
Sainsbury’s Purchases made between 18 October and 25 December can be returned up until 24 January 2021. 30 days
Smyths Toys Purchases made from 7 September can be returned/exchanged up to 31 January 2021. 28 days
Tesco Gifts bought between 1 October and 24 December 2020 can be returned until 31 January 2021. 30 days
The Body Shop 60 days 60 days
The Entertainer Any purchases made between 1 October and 24 December 2020 can be returned up until 21 January 2021. 28 days
TK Maxx Items purchased from 16 October can be returned until 19 January.
Waitrose 35 days 35 days
WH Smith Three months Three months
Wiggle One year One year

Tips for returning unwanted purchases and gifts

1. Make sure you have proof of purchase

If you’re making a return, you’ll usually need proof of purchase – such as a receipt or gift receipt – to get a replacement or refund.

In lieu of a gift receipt, you’ll probably need to ask whoever sent you the present for their receipt or confirmation email.

Check the date on the receipt or email to ensure you don’t miss the deadline for making returns.

2. Check the T&Cs for unwanted vouchers

If you wish to exchange an unwanted voucher, you’ll need to check the T&Cs.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to exchange an unwanted voucher for cash.

You might have more luck in being able to change a voucher from an experience-dedicated website than with a gift card for a specific retailer.

3. Don’t accept credit notes for online purchases if returned within 14 days

The retailer’s returns policy might state that you’ll only receive a credit note or vouchers, but this can only apply if you’ve change your mind or have bought the wrong colour or size, etc.

The exception is for most items bought at a distance (eg online or mail order) where the Consumer Contracts Regulations give you a cancellation period that starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

If there’s a problem with your item (for example it’s faulty or not as described), you’re also entitled to a cash refund rather than a credit note or voucher.

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