Over 3 million Brits a year say the reason why they want a refund on a gift is because they have split with their partner, with 11 December the biggest day of the year for break-ups. This season’s 25% jump in refunds could signal that many of us had a Blue Christmas.

Last week saw an increase of around 25% in the number of items being returned to retailers compared to Christmas 2021, according to the home delivery expert ParcelHero. Many of those returns were presents that arrived too late due to postal strikes and heavy snow. However, there’s a sadder reason for gift returns. More people split up in the two weeks before Christmas than at any other time of year.

The big jump in this season’s returns could mean that many of us had a Blue Christmas. Break-ups mean that special gifts of jewellery, clothing and gadgets are destined never to be given and instead are quietly sent back to the store.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Around £1.5bn of Christmas orders were returned last week, and one reason for that is likely to be Christmas time break-ups. Researchers have analysed Facebook messages and discovered 11 December is the year’s busiest day for splits. Given its proximity to Christmas, many couples will have already purchased their special gifts.

‘Experts believe that for many new couples, the pressure of meeting their partner’s family is just too much. But it could be the impact of buying the gifts themselves that spells the end of the relationship.

‘According to psychologist Dr Dorree Lynn: “A lot of people have issues about gift giving and how intimate the gift giving is. They get frightened because they don’t want to put pressure on the other person, but on the other hand they don’t want to feel like a fool giving something and not getting anything back.”

‘For others less invested in their relationship, she says it may mean that “staying together and exchanging expensive gifts just isn’t worth it”.

‘The result of all this pre-Christmas heartbreak is that around 6% of all adult Brits have sent items back for a refund because they have split up. Research from the digital payment expert Trustly reveals an estimated 3.1 million UK adults return their items because they broke up with their partner. 

‘It’s a sad fact that the pressure of choosing the gift itself can prompt the end of a relationship. To add to the misery, the 14-day return period for online items purchased before Christmas has already expired. If you haven’t returned an unwanted gift by now you may be too late. However, one small piece of good news for the lovelorn is that many of our favourite retailers introduced extended grace periods for Christmas gift returns. For example, until 24 January, ASOS will accept returns for any item purchased between 14 November and 24 December. Likewise, until 31 January, Amazon will replace or refund items purchased between 1 November and 31 December.

‘Finally, to avoid the double jeopardy of a break-up and losing your money, remember that certain items need special extra packaging when you return them. TVs or microwaves, for example, 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. If the item arrives back at the store broken, they may refuse to give you a refund. We strongly recommend anyone returning a large or heavy item reads our guide to packaging and shipping such items.

By Alison