MILLIONS of pounds worth of unwanted Christmas gifts and sale purchases will be returned to High Street shops and online retailers over the next few days, but many consumers will be unhappy with the outcome.

According to GoCompare Money, around £143 million of presents will be taken back this year. However, it estimates that only 69 per cent of returns will succeed.

Matthew Sanders, from GoCompare Money, said: “Most of us will have received at least one Christmas present we wanted to return. Perhaps it was clothing that was the wrong size, a naff jumper from Granny or a duplicate of something you already own.

“Thankfully, many retailers relax their returns policy around Christmas, making it easier to return items you don’t want.”

A survey for the comparison site found that 30% of adults have returned a Christmas gift, with 8% doing so last year.

Just over half acted because the item was the wrong size, colour or version, and almost as many said they did not like what they had received.

The other most common reasons were that they already owned something similar or wanted cash instead

Although many returns went smoothly, almost a third did not get the result they hoped for, with 13% denied a refund or exchange because they had no receipt.

The remainder were told the retailer did not accept returns, that they were beyond the time limit, or that the item could not go back because it was used or damaged.

According to website TopCashback, eight out of 10 consumers plan to shop in the post-Christmas sales, spending an average of £336 each.

Many millions of pounds of these items – including close to half of all clothes and shoes ordered online – are expected to go back, and many people will be disappointed with the outcome.

High Street retailers do not have to take back gifts or sale items unless they are damaged, faulty or not as described. They are also under no obligation to accept items returned by someone other than the buyer.

Retailers' returns policies can usually be found on till receipts, signs in stores or on their websites.

As a gesture of goodwill around the festive period, many will refund or exchange gifts or give credit notes or vouchers if the goods are returned unused and in the original packaging, with labels and tags intact, within 14 to 28 days.

Food, drink, flowers and other perishables and specially commissioned or personalised gifts tend not to be included in returns policies.

Some retailers may also refuse to take back earrings, underwear, cosmetics and toiletries because of hygiene concerns.

Before giving a refund, most will expect to see a receipt, but some will exchange goods or offer credit vouchers without one.

However, if the item has since been reduced in price, the credit note will be for the lower amount.

If the purchase was made using a credit or debit card, any refund will normally have to go back onto the same card.

In the case of a gift, this may mean asking the person who bought it to arrange the return on your behalf.

When it comes to purchases made online, by phone or mail order, there is an automatic right of return for most items – unless customised, perishable or sold by a private individual – provided the seller is notified within 14 days of delivery and the goods sent back in the following 14 days.

If the seller arranges delivery and something fails to arrive or is harmed in transit, it is their responsibility to deal with the courier and rectifying the situation.

If any purchase turns out to be damaged, faulty or not as described, the seller must provide a repair, replacement or full refund, regardless of its returns policy.

It does not matter if it was bought in person or online, at full price or discounted. As long as the problem was not pointed out before the transaction was complete, the retailer must give redress, including reimbursing postage or collection costs.

If the problem becomes apparent within 30 days, it has to give a full refund unless you accept a repair or replacement.

Between 30 days and six months, the retailer must provide a free repair or like-for-like replacement. If this is also unsatisfactory, it has to give a full refund.

After six months, to get a repair or replacement, you may have to prove you did not cause the fault. If the item still does not work or the replacement is not identical, you can opt for a partial refund reflecting use to date.