Many shoppers across the UK missed out on vouchers that expired due to closure of shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
A consumer group, Which? estimated that nearly £100 million was lost by shoppers in vouchers that were not used during the coronavirus lockdown. The nationwide lockdown had seen shops and businesses closing for about three months, before reopening in June.
The survey found that a quarter of shoppers held a voucher worth £45.70 on average that expired during the lockdown period.
Nearly half of customers with an expiring voucher were contacted by their retailers who offered to extend their vouchers, while almost a third did not receive an extension and lost their money.
A number of shoppers with expiring vouchers told Which? that they were “disappointed” when they contacted a retailer to request for an extension who told them “hard luck, basically”, while others said their vouchers were automatically extended after making a request.
An increase in coronavirus infections could lead to further restrictions and those who buy new vouchers could find it difficult to use them. Which? has encouraged people are unable to use their vouchers to contact their retailers.
A consumer rights expert, Adam French, said: “Our research suggests consumers may have lost tens of millions of pounds on expired vouchers during lockdown. Many retailers have extended shopping vouchers that expired during lockdown, so if you have a voucher you were unable to use it is worth contacting the company.
“Anyone considering buying a voucher should be aware of the risks, as some well-known retailers have collapsed in recent months and further coronavirus restrictions could make it difficult to spend vouchers and gift cards.”
Retailers were seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with many running out of business and other struggling to survive.