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‘Takeback Tuesday’ returns increased by 25% yesterday (3 January) compared to the same day last year, according to ParcelHero.

The delivery specialist estimates around £1.5bn worth of items are now winging their way back to retailers, mainly because they missed Christmas delivery.

The usual Christmas delays were compounded by the impact of strikes in the traditional mail service, heavy snow and Covid chaos in China, the company added.

David Jinks, ParcelHero head of consumer research, said: “It looks like Brits spent considerably less on presents this year.

Figures from YouGov indicate planned spending on gifts fell from an average of £388 to £300. However, our overall Christmas budgets stayed relatively level, due to the increased cost of food, drink and post-pandemic parties.

“Even with this fall in gift purchases, we’re still seeing a significantly higher number of returns being handled by courier networks than we did last year.

“The chief reason is undoubtedly the fact that many items failed to arrive in time for Christmas. Some retailers, such as Currys, dropped their traditional mail options to ensure timely deliveries but that created knock-on delays in the alternative courier networks.

“In fact, with thousands of parcels still languishing in the system, many of us are still waiting for items to arrive ten days after Christmas.”