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£2.6 billion spent on unwanted Christmas presents

If given money, 24% would invest or save it ethically

04-12-2014 |

  • 32% of people receive presents they don’t want
  • Average value of unwanted gifts is £155
  • If given money for Christmas, 42% of 18-24 year olds would consider investing it ethically

Adults in the UK receive £2.6billion* worth of unwanted gifts at Christmas, according to new research from Triodos Bank. The study found that 32 per cent of people receive at least one unwanted present every year with an average value of £155.

Of those who received unwanted goods, 14 per cent said they were worth at least £500 while three per cent of the men questioned admitted being given an unwanted present with a value of £1,000 or more.

The research found that the level and value of unwanted gift giving differs between the age groups, with younger people being the most likely to receive unwanted gifts of the highest value.

Less than a fifth (18%) of the over 55s polled said they’d received an unwanted gifts, estimating the average value to be £32 and in the 35-54 age group, 31 per cent were given presents they didn’t want, worth around £70 on average. But almost half of those aged 18-34 received unwanted gifts, on average two each, with an estimated value of £279.

Appetite for ethical investment

As well as looking at unwanted gifts, Triodos Bank’s survey also looked at what people do with their Christmas money. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 26 per cent of people said they would spend it straight away. But of those who would save or invest any Christmas gift money, almost a quarter said they would consider using it for something good.

Twenty four per cent of those polled said they would consider saving or investing Christmas gift money ethically in, for example, environmental or social sectors such as renewable energy, healthcare or local community projects. For the 18-34s – the group that typically receives the most unwanted gifts – the number was almost double the overall average, with 42% stating they would consider investing or saving Christmas money ethically.

Huw Davies, Head of Personal Banking at Triodos comments: "It’s good to see that if given money so many people would consider saving or investing it ethically, and particularly encouraging and that this is even more prevalent in the younger generation."

Notes to editors:

For more information, arranging interviews, available case studies and or additional pictures, please contact the Triodos Bank Communications team:

Faye Holst, T 0117 9809 584 or M 0755 778 5167


Rachel Mason, T 0117 9809721 or M 0750 078 8258


William Ferguson, T 0117 980 9770 or M 07899 965 640


About Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank only finances enterprises which create social, environmental or cultural added value. Key sectors include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing, and fair trade. Transparency is a core value: customers are informed about the bank's lending and can target their savings to particular areas of investment. A range of personal savings accounts is offered, and full banking services are available for businesses and charities. Triodos Bank is an independent bank founded in the Netherlands in 1980. Its principles and independence are protected through a special shareholding trust. The UK office opened in 1995 and is based in Bristol.

About the research

2,002 UK adults aged 18+ interviewed online on behalf of Triodos Bank by Opinium Research between 11 and 14 November 2014. Weighted to a nationally representative criteria.

* Annual Mid-Year Population Estimates for the UK, Office for National Statistics: 52,798,300.

Adults who received at least one unwanted present: 32%

Average value of unwanted gifts: £155

52,798,300 x 32% x £155 = £2,618,795,680

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