/ Shopping

Do you know your Christmas shopping rights?

Christmas shopping online

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly upon us, and thousands of us will be using these sales events to hopefully cut the expense of Christmas gift shopping. But do you know your rights when it comes to buying online and on the high street?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast becoming the most popular shopping days in our calendars.

In fact, UK shoppers spent more than £3.3bn over the Black Friday weekend last year.

But, according to research published by Clear Returns, as much as £180m of those purchases were returned within days – that’s £1 for every £18 spent. And in a recent Which? survey of more than 2,000 shoppers, half said they’d returned something they’d bought in the past year.

Online or offline – what are your rights?

Surprisingly, for a nation of returners, we also found that just three in ten of those surveyed knew you have different rights when shopping online than on the high street.

With most online orders you have 14 days to let a seller know you no longer want an item, you then have a further 14 days from that date in which to return the item to the seller.

In store, however, you’re at the mercy of each shop’s own returns policy, unless your product is faulty.

So, if you’re going to get caught up in deal hunting on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you’re probably best placed doing it online. That way, you’ll be better protected should you make a rash decision or two that you later regret.

Test your shopping rights know-how

The average UK family spends just over £800 on Christmas. But if anything goes wrong it can pay to know where you stand and how to put things right.

Before you hit the high street or hammer the online sales, take our quiz and test your knowledge. Let us know how your score stacks up.


Do you know your shopping rights? Has a retailer ever tried to fob you off?


If you buy from a Christmas fair vendor, what happens if the item needs to be returned or exchanged?

I bought a silver (925 silver) locket and chain for a friend and I wasn’t sure if the chain was going to be big enough or too big.

Also, I wasn’t given a receipt, which I felt that the vendor should have given me at point of sale.


You have the same rights at a market as in a shop but the retailer does not have to replace an item or give a refund if it was sold in perfect condition. So far as I am aware, receipts are not mandatory at the point of sale but you must be given one on request. If the Christmas market is still trading you can return and speak to the trader but the chances are it will be gone by Christmas Eve. The organisers of the market should have a list of stall holders and might help you trace the one who sold you the locket and chain. The local council should have details of who organised the market. If the chain is too long that will not be a problem because any good jeweller will be able to take some links out to shorten it. If the chain is too short you might have to buy a longer chain unless the links are of a common pattern and new matching ones can be easily inserted. If you need to buy a longer chain you might be able to negotiate a part-exchange with the original chain. Let’s hope it fits perfectly and full gratitude is shown.

Pamela says:
28 December 2016

I brought my husband and pair of slippers which turned out to be too tight for him. Had the receipt but shop would not exchange because he had worn them. (Only worn to see if they were ok) . They said they were not resellerable.


Hi Pam, that’s annoying. Did the slippers look worn at all? Had the labels been removed? Under the Consumer Rights Act you should be able to return goods that aren’t fit for purpose or of an unsatisfactory quality – more on this here: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act#30-day-right-to-reject

Have you tried to complain to company on their social media channels? Many of these channels will help with customer service, I’ve successfully complained to a retailer on Twitter before after a store rejected a return. Alternatively you could call its customer service telephone line.


I bought a coat online using a promotional code and returned the item within 7 days of receiving it. The company are now saying I am not entitled to a refund, only online store credit. Reading the Consumer Regulations I don’t think they can do this. Am I actually entitled to a refund?



Michael Patterson says:
31 December 2016

I bought two items of bed linen from a local store at a special price on Black Friday. Without opening the packaging it was clear when I got them home that they were the wrong size. When I took them back to the shop a few weeks later to exchange them for identical items of the right size I was asked to pay extra. Is this right? After all the shop now has the original items which it can resell at full price and I’ve lost my Black Friday discount.