World News

Portugal extends shop returns period in holiday season to prevent crowds

A woman wearing a protective mask speaks with a driver of a tram during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Lisbon, Portugal October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/Files

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal will extend the limit on returns for products bought in the leadup to Christmas to three months from 30 days in an attempt to prevent crowds around the holiday season and further coronavirus contagion, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

Under EU law, stores must allow customers at least two weeks to return products. Retailers in Portugal are usually prohibited from allowing more than 30 days for returns.

This rule will be temporarily loosened this year as part of a wider package of measures designed to help stores increase sales and reduce crowds via incentives to extend their holiday promotion periods and shoppers to start buying gifts early.

Stores have the option of extending the returns period for goods sold between Nov. 4 and Dec. 25 to at least the end of January, Costa said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

Portugal reported 7,497 new cases of the coronavirus and 59 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total cases and deaths to 156,940 and 2,694 respectively.

While shops remain open, they must shut at 10 p.m. in 121 municipalities where infections are highest, covering 70% of the country’s population. Residents have a ‘civic duty’ to work from home where possible and leave the house only for essential trips like school and shopping.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, editing by Andrei Khalip, William Maclean