Written By Lee Fellows, Managing Director, The Charity Shop Gift Card

That’s a question that is increasingly being asked as we think about Christmas presents for family and friends.  The thought of buying someone a secondhand gift only a few years ago would have been unthinkable for most people but it does seem that this is rapidly changing.

The reality is that all of us buy second-hand at times, especially major purchases like cars and houses but recent research shows that we’re increasingly willing to consider buying items that are new to us.

But why is this?  There is a multitude of reasons that increasingly we’re buying and gifting secondhand:

1. The normalisation of buying second-hand – We now have a sizeable percentage of the population that have grown up with secondhand marketplace apps.  eBay remains the largest but there has been a number of entrants into the market with consumers regularly buying from Vinted, Depop, Thriftify, Facebook Marketplace with Amazon increasing their offering to include preloved.

2. Secondhand items are usually less expensive than buying new.  This is increasingly important during the cost-of-living crisis and leading to a shift in buying behaviour. Research from SQLI Digital Experience showing “that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of UK adults say they are comfortable seen heading into a charity shop due to the cost-of-living

3. Buying secondhand is far kinder to the environment as there is a direct reduction in the carbon emissions of manufacturing new products and a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released by items going to landfill.  Consumers are becoming more aware of the negative effects of the fashion industry, which in 2019 was reported to account for 10% of global CO2 emissions and 20% of waste water.

4. The recognition that buying new doesn’t always make us happier.  Research undertaken by Dr Carolyn Mair a cognitive Psychologist, on behalf of Oxfam also shows that the thrill of buying a new item of clothing fades on average after just four wears. But, interestingly, nearly a quarter of us say the thrill lasts longer when we buy second hand.

5. Buying secondhand can often be more personal.  When shopping secondhand for gifts, we have the opportunity to find some really unique items. Antique stores and charity shops are filled with one-of-a-kind things that make great gifts.

6. New items are designed to last longer.  We’re seeing increasing regulations on making goods last longer and easier to repair which should have the impact of extending the lifespan of goods ranging from electronics to clothing.

Whilst no one expects every Christmas gift to be sourced secondhand, maybe it is time to take steps towards a more sustainable gifting industry.  Research conducted last year by Instaprint, indicated that “up to 2.5 million Secret Santa gifts exchanged in UK workplaces will end up in the bin this year. This adds up to almost £32.5 million worth of gifts that could have been saved and given better homes.”


The Charity Shop Gift Card is running a campaign this Christmas #sustainabalesecretsanta encouraging everyone to consider more conscious gifting this year.

The Charity Shop Gift Card is a social enterprise that works in partnership with The Charity Retail Association, program managing a gift card that can only be spent in participating charity shops.

To find out more about The Charity Shop Gift Card as a sustainable gift, please visit www.thecharityshopgiftcard.co.uk