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Half of Brits receive gifts they don't want, worth some £5 billion combined
Christmas – a time to spend with family, feast on roast turkey, enjoy the festive atmosphere and of course, receive presents. But as it turns out, you’d better start thinking through the ‘presents’ part of the equation a little more, as more people than you think receive unwanted gifts each year.
According to our survey of 2,009 British adults, we estimate that over 21 million (50.77%) of us receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. There’s even one in 10 (9.26%) of us who have deliberately bought someone a gift they knew they wouldn’t like.
Of those who’ve received these undesired gifts, they receive three on average. That’s three too many!
What do Brits do with their unwanted gifts?
The largest group of people opted to politely keep the presents they disliked (23.20%), so perhaps we’re able to excuse those gift-givers who truly thought they’d bought you the perfect gift.
Regifting comes in at a close second (22.50%), followed by the caring souls who donated them instead (21.87%).
Getting into the entrepreneurial mindset, 11.31% of those with an unwanted gift sold it, followed by 9.86% who exchanged them and 6.13% threw them away.
There’s even 4.68% who went the blunt route and gave the unwanted present back!
|What we do with unwanted gifts||Percentage|
|Throw them away||6.13%|
|Give them back||4.68%|
Unwanted gifts: What should I avoid buying as a Christmas present?
Clothing and accessories topped the list of most unwanted gifts (25.03%), followed by cosmetics and fragrances (17.63%), household items (11.49%), food and/or drink (8.07%), literature (7.47%), music (6.47%), and technology (5.24%).
Turns out if you’re unsure what to get someone, stick with tech or music! These were least likely to be unwanted. There was also 18.59% counted as “other”, which included toiletries, novelty items and gift vouchers.
|What we don't like to receive||Population|
What do people look forward to during the holidays?
Over two in five (43.80%) of all respondents say they most look forward to spending time with their family during Christmas, while 7.47% claim they’ve nothing to look forward to.
Getting time off work is the second favourite thing about the holidays for Brits (17.22%), followed closely by the festive atmosphere (13.34%). Food is next (9.26%), then presents (4.13%).
There’s even 2.44% of us who say their favourite thing is getting drunk! The remaining (2.34%) things that people look forward to include relaxing, decorating the house and travelling.
Let’s take a look at demographics
Women appear to be the pickier of the sexes, with 54.77% saying they’d received an unwanted gift, compared with 46.41% of men. On average, the unwanted gifts were more expensive for men than women – £38.69 for women, compared with £45.58 for men.
Men are much more likely to give back the presents (7.81%, compared to 2.24% for women), as well as throw them away (8.68%, compared with 4.15% for women). Women are more likely to donate them at 26.37% compared with men (16.06%), as well as regift them (25.48% compared with 18.67% of men).
Men are more likely to deliberately buy an unwanted gift – 11.55% of all men have done this, compared with 7.16% of women.
As for the kinds of unwanted gifts, men are more likely to not want music (9.03% compared to 4.09% of women), whereas women are more likely to not want household items for Christmas (13.57% compared to 9.26% of men). To further break the stereotype, women are more likely to be unhappy with cosmetic and fragrance gifts (23.26% compared to 11.57%).
When it comes to spending time with family over the holidays, a higher proportion of women (48.28%) than men (38.92%) look forward to it. Getting drunk, on the other hand, seems to be something men (4.47%) look forward to more than women (0.57%). They also anticipate taking time off work more than women, at 19.15% of men compared to 15.46% of women.
It turns out the millennials are the pickiest generation, with almost three-quarters (71.06%) of them saying they’ve received a gift they dislike. They’re followed by Gen Xers at 54.72% and baby boomers at 40.81%.
The average number of unwanted gifts are two for baby boomers, three for Gen Xers and four for millennials, with the average cost of these gifts coming in at £18.61 for baby boomers, £35.33 for Gen Xers and £93.84 for millennials.
Millennials are most likely to give the present back (9.61%), followed by Gen Xers (4.83%) then baby boomers (0.94%). They’re also the most likely to throw them away (10.39%), compared to Gen Xers (6.33%) and baby boomers (2.81%).
|What do we do with the gifts?||Millennial||Gen Xer||Baby boomer|
|Throw them away||10.39%||6.33%||2.81%|
|Give them back||9.61%||4.83%||0.94%|
Perhaps millennials are overdue for some self-reflection when it comes to Christmas giving. Over two in three say they’ve received a gift they dislike, yet they’re the worst for knowingly gifting someone an unwanted present (21.86%). Baby boomers, on the other hand, are the most thoughtful in their gifts with only 3.31% buying a bad gift on purpose, followed by Gen Xers at 11.42%. If you receive a gift from a millennial this Christmas season, watch out.
The grinchiest generation of them all are baby boomers, with 9.29% of them saying there’s nothing they like about the holidays. Gen X follows this at 6.69%, with millennials coming in the least likely at only 3.86% not liking Christmas
Getting drunk is a near equal priority across all the generations – millennials are the highest at 2.57%, baby boomers are next at 2.46%, and Gen Xers bring up the rear at 2.36%. Millennials are most into presents (9.32%, compared to 4.86% of Gen Xers and 1.82% of baby boomers) but the least likely to want to spend time with family (34.73%, compared with 45.51% of baby boomers and 45.41% of Gen Xers).
Unwanted gifts: How do we compare to the USA?
It turns out our friends across the pond are less likely to deliberately buy someone a gift they knew they won’t like! Only 7% of Americans have done this, compared with 9.26% of Brits. We’re also spending more than them on these unwanted presents, at £41.70 compared to the £36.96 (USD$49.45) that Americans spend on average.
Regifting seems to know no borders. Both of us tend to give our unwanted presents to someone else the most. We are, however, more likely to return to sender – 4.68% of Brits getting unwanted presents will give them back, compared with 2.56% of Americans. We’re also in agreement on who gives the worst gifts – hands down, friends.
So what do we do about it?
Perhaps it’s time to start a wishlist policy. Or better yet, with more people looking forward to spending time with their family than presents, rearrange our priorities. Either way, start getting smarter about gift-giving. Don’t be afraid to ask what people want – it also means you’ll be able to shop around and find the best deal!
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