Bargains in the sale carry the same rights as normal purchases. Despite some shops claiming that sales goods may not be brought back, this is not the law.
However consumers must take account of warnings that goods which have been marked down on account of being damaged or shop-soiled.
To inform New Year sales shoppers of their rights the Government has launched a ‘Know Your Rights Campaign' on the consumer direct website ( www.consumerdirect.gov.uk). Even in the sales, it points out, goods must be accurately described and of satisfactory quality.
Faulty or unsatisfactory goods are the retailer's - not the manufacturer's - responsibility.
Shoppers returning poor quality or mis-described goods within a "reasonable period of time" may be entitled to ask for a full refund. If some use has been made of the goods or they have been kept for a while, it is reasonable to ask for a repair or a replacement item.
Customers simply changing their minds about whether they like a purchase have is no right to a refund under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
The Consumer Affairs Minister Kevin Brennan urged shoppers to exercise their rights in the sales, as at other times. "Just because you've bought something in a sale, it doesn't mean that you don't have the same rights as someone who paid full price," he said.
"About a third of people have said that they felt their consumer rights had been ignored at some point, and I want to do everything possible to make sure this doesn't happen in the future. If you know your rights, and are confident in what you can ask for, you're much more likely to get the right result when things go wrong."