Christmas gift swop: shoppers find there’s a future for presents imperfect

2010-12-28 00:00

UNHAPPY with that fluffy pink toilet seat cover your mother-in-law gave you? Unable to face the flashy tie your aged aunt picked out?

Now is the time to do something about those gifts that made you smile through gritted teeth.

The post-Christmas period can be just as busy for retailers as the pre-Christmas rush. Although less formalised than in other countries, this is the “exchanges and returns” season, when consumers take back unwanted or unsuitable gifts.

Poobie Naidoo, owner of Poobie Naidoo’s Sports Warehouse, said: “People bought the necessities this Christmas; they did not go overboard. We have had some exchanges of shoes that were the wrong size, like cross trainers and running shoes.”

A spokesperson for a Liberty Midlands Mall retailer said: “Toys are the main item being returned and changed, particularly on Boxing Day, when our customer service department was very busy.”

A mall department store reported that customers were mostly changing clothing or taking gift vouchers in exchange for it.

A third mall retailer said they were not experiencing “out of the ordinary” gift returns, but she expected to be much busier in the week ahead when people return to work.

Several stores approached said they are not authorised to comment and their head offices are closed for the public holiday.

A survey of The Witness newsroom didn’t turn up any gift disasters — only a few near misses: a “hideous” car seat cushion, a drill and matching tool set all in pink, a car-cleaning set and a frying pan.

There is a simple answer to avoiding sad-looking socks, stale chocolates and endless bottles of wine you won’t drink: write a Christmas list and let everyone know what’s on it, including price ranges of different items.

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