Concerns over the environment set to drive Brits to shop second-hand this Christmas, reveals new Oxfam research

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Millions of eco-conscious people are set to have a ‘second-hand’ Christmas this year – with 31 per cent planning on buying pre-owned presents to be more environmentally friendly. 

A study of 2,000 adults who celebrate Christmas revealed 62 per cent consider the current climate crisis an important factor when buying pre-owned items. 

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) are changing their purchasing habits this Christmas to avoid waste, with 23 per cent wanting to buy second-hand gifts that might otherwise end up in landfill were they not recycled by a charity shop. 

And over half (53 per cent) generally feel ‘happier’ buying second-hand Christmas presents than buying brand new.

When asked about their attitudes towards receiving a second-hand Christmas gift, 42 per cent are more open to it now than in previous years.

Lorna Fallon, Retail Director for Oxfam, said: “It’s encouraging to see that Brits are more accepting of buying second-hand than ever before to protect the environment, with the climate emergency in mind. World leaders met recently at COP26 to discuss how countries can tackle the crisis, but individuals can also effect change by making choices that are better for the world we live in. 

“With Christmas just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to find a unique gift for friends or family, while striving to protect the planet and raising money to support Oxfam's vital work fighting poverty around the world.”

The study, commissioned by Oxfam, found second-hand gifting is far more acceptable now – with 31 per cent feeling they’re doing the right thing for the environment and 17 per cent ‘feeling good’ for much longer than when buying something new as a Christmas gift.

Mark Haddon, the author best known for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, bought ‘The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett: Krapp’s Last Tape' and 'The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett: End Game’ for his partner. 

He said: “She’s not a big indulger so she’s hard to buy presents for at the best of times. This Christmas - post-COP26 especially - we both feel a bit queasy at the prospect of buying yet more unnecessary new stuff - so buying something second-hand is the perfect compromise.”

Looking at their Christmas wish list, 36 per cent would be happy buying pre-owned books as a present for someone as well as DVDs (21 per cent), toys (20 per cent) and jewellery (19 per cent).

The survey revealed that signed copies, rare and collectibles, first editions and fiction are the most popular types of book people would consider buying as a second-hand Christmas gift. 

Oxfam is the largest chain of second-hand bookshops in Europe, with thousands of titles available to browse on the Oxfam Online Shop.

When searching for used Christmas gifts, 71 per cent said they would visit a charity shop to find the present they want. 

And 43 per cent would consider buying a pre-owned Secret Santa gift from the same place. 

Six in 10 would opt to find second-hand presents on an online marketplace with 35 per cent visiting a charity shop online rather than in store, according to the research conducted by OnePoll.

Meanwhile, more than a third (35 per cent) of adults are likely to buy Christmas presents that are second-hand for their children this year. 

When asked why, 58 per cent said the kids wouldn’t mind whether a gift was new or old, and 54 per cent said second-hand clothing is better as children grow out of everything so quickly anyway. 

Three in 10 adults are keen to get their kids something pre-owned as a Christmas gift to get them thinking more about the environment. 

Lorna Fallon added: “It’s great to see so many people embracing conscious consumerism this Christmas. The Oxfam Online Shop and high street shops are ideal choices for Christmas shopping if you’re after a good quality, unique gift that doesn’t cost the Earth.”  


Notes to editors

About Oxfam

  • Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the  big issues,  like inequality  and climate  change,  that  keep people poor. Join us!
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