With Christmas shopping underway new research reveals the nation’s shopping habits

Christmas shopping crowds in Norwich. Picture Sonya Duncan

Christmas shopping crowds in Norwich. Picture Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Many of us are doing our best to grab a bargain in the run-up to Christmas.

Christmas shopping crowds. Picture Sonya Duncan

Christmas shopping crowds. Picture Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

But come January, will your wardrobe be crammed with 'must-haves' that you didn't really need - or will you be queuing at the tills once more in the hope of getting your money back?

New research has found that many of us are 'fashion stashers' - and it's a habit that can cost dearly.

One in six shoppers have bought items in the last 12 months that they have never used and failed to return - with clothing and shoes topping the list.

A survey from Barclaycard has found that, on average, we wear less than half of the items in our wardrobe. Only 41pc of items typically get used.

A woman's closet is crammed with around 109 items that never see the light of day, while a man has 90 such items of clothing.

Barclaycard calculates we're wasting around £1,033-worth of storage space by giving house room to unworn clothes, based on the average value of a property per square foot.

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So why don't we just wear these outfits?

Some 43pc of 18 to 34-year-olds are hesitant about being seen in the same outfit twice.

And nearly a quarter of shoppers also hope they might lose a bit of weight and fit into a few unworn outfits one day.

The high numbers of shoppers changing their mind after buying goods is also having an impact on retailers' finances.

Many customers are returning goods which they have used - making retailers unable to sell them on. But many retailers are refunding customers anyway to keep them happy.

As well as speaking to shoppers, Barclaycard also carried out research among retailers - which found nearly six in 10 will give refunds regardless of a product's condition to keep a positive relationship with customers.

Not including faulty or damaged stock, merchants estimate that a quarter of goods refunded are unfit for them to sell on.

The research suggests 48pc of unfit items which have been returned have actually been used, while 29pc are marked and 28pc have parts missing.

Many stores have introduced new systems to dispose of returned items they can't sell on themselves.

Barclaycard found around one in 10 retailers had partnered with another seller to resell the items at a loss. But the volume of unwanted stock is piling up so much that 8pc had moved to a bigger warehouse to store unwanted goods.

The volume of serial returners has prompted some firms to tighten up their rules - affecting shoppers generally.

Some have opted to restrict their policies in a bid to cut the level of returns, particularly for online purchases.

Nearly four in 10 merchants say they don't offer free returns as a way to discourage shoppers from returning non-faulty items, Barclaycard found.

A further 12pc have stopped offering this service because it became too expensive.

But stricter returns policies can also hurt stores' businesses - as over a third (36%) of shoppers surveyed say they would be put off if there was a charge to return items by post or courier.