The Cost of Returning Unwanted Christmas Gifts


To Return or Not To Return?

  • Britain spent an estimated £700m online on ‘Manic Monday’
  • 40% of clothing bought throughout the year is returned during January after
  • John Lewis saw 12% rate of return in late 2012-early 2013

Last year a staggering £43 billion was spent on Christmas in Britain, and with an estimated £700 million spent online during ‘Manic Monday’ – the second Monday in December – alone this year, industry experts are predicting a very Merry Christmas for UK retailers.

However, such high spending figures are not without their drawbacks. keeps a running total of the amount it costs the UK’s online retailers in returned goods (that’s not including the value of the items) which at the time of writing is approaching a staggering £200 million – all before the key post-Christmas period.

Sites like eBay and Gumtree have also had reason to cheer, with recent record-setting years of new listings added over the Christmas period, no doubt thanks to some unwanted gifts.

With so much money being lost through the process of returns and restocks in British shops, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you find a new home for that unwanted gift and save e-retailers the cost of processing its return.

What To Do With Unwanted Gifts


It may be a naughty word in some social circles, but passing on a gift you don’t like or already have to someone else has its benefits. If you know someone who would like the scarf you got for Christmas but aren’t too keen on it yourself, it’s worth hanging onto until their birthday – or even next Christmas – to re-wrap and re-gift. It will save you the time and money spent getting their gift, and they’re likely to end up with something you know they’ll love. One tip though – avoid potential embarrassment and make sure it doesn’t get re-gifted to the person you got it from in the first place.

Donate It To Charity

Charity shops and hospices will always be grateful for your donations (unless they’re VHS tapes) no matter what, so why not consider including that unwanted Christmas present in a charity shop donation the next time you head into town? Not only will this ensure that its next recipient is a willing one, but the charity will also raise some money from your sacrifice, and give you the satisfaction of performing a charitable act.

Recycle It

Although not the preferred option when there’s other choices available, sometimes there’s nothing for it when you’ve been given a particularly bad present and would rather not sully anyone’s eyes, ears or tastebuds with it.

Sell It

As well as the listings sites mentioned earlier, for others to make an offer on your gift, there’s also the option to offer it directly to services such as Music Magpie (for DVDs, CDs and video games), or to high street stores like CEX. For the shops you’ll get a higher offer in store credit than you will in cash, which is handy if you’ve had the idea of trading in one box set for another, but it’s best to hang onto anything you don’t think is worth the trade for now.

Bite the Bullet and Just Keep It

Our tastes change over time – that cardigan buried at the back of your wardrobe may one day become a must-have statement in your eyes. If you’ve got the room there’s no reason not to keep the stuff which you don’t see yourself using any time soon, plus it’ll lessen the guilt by not selling or giving it away.

In real anticipation, why not consider writing a Christmas wish list for next year? Giving friends and family a selection of gift ideas can solve the problem of unwanted gifting entirely. Exchanging lists early enough with friends and family can mean that everyone ends up with something they love and will want to keep.

Here’s hoping you get some great Christmas presents – or at the very least that they come with a receipt wrapped inside.


The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.