Martin Lewis advises shoppers on spending Topshop gift cards

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Black Friday and Christmas will soon be here and with them, the focus for many people will soon start to turn towards Xmas shopping over the coming weeks. However, new research by Which? has revealed one in 10 UK residents received a gift card for a bust retailer since the pandemic began. So, should you avoid buying them this year?

Gift cards are often viewed as a quick and easy solution for family members who can prove tricky to buy for.

In 2019 the UK gift card market – including gift cards, vouchers and digital e-gift codes – was valued at just under £7 billion.

Nonetheless, the Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses across the country, leading to many going bust.

Research conducted by Which?, the UK’s consumer champion, has found that buying gift cards this Christmas may not be the most sensible present idea.

Last month they surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK and found an estimated two million people were given unusable gift cards in the past year.

This is because the businesses the cards were valid for had gone into bankruptcy.

Their research also found two in five consumers with gift cards for companies that had gone bust in the past year were unable to spend their full balance.

Consequently, shoppers were losing out on an average of £25 per voucher.

Why are shoppers losing out?

Since the Covid pandemic began a number of high-street retailers have fallen into administration.

Which? survey results identified one in five of those with vouchers for bust retailers had a gift card for an Arcadia Group retailer – the company which entered administration in November 2020.

Some of these retailers, including Topshop and Miss Selfridge, only allowed customers to pay for 50 percent of their order total with gift card credit after they each fell into administration.

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Shoppers were then told to front the remainder of the cost with their own money.

Unfortunately, for consumers, when administrators take control of a company they are legally free to refuse gift cards at any point in an attempt to save the collapsed business.

For example, last Christmas, administrators decided to stop accepting gift cards at Debenhams stores.

What are my rights with gift cards?

If you purchase or receive a gift card this Christmas here’s what you need to look out for.

Always check the T&Cs

Check the T&Cs on the voucher itself and the surrounding packaging. Keep an eye out for expiry dates or fees.

Check how to extend your gift card

Just by checking your balance online or spending a small amount of your voucher could renew the expiry date.

Spend your voucher quickly.

Remember if a company falls into administration gift cards can be refused as an acceptable form of payment.

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