Unwanted gifts set to find a charitable home this Christmas

KPMG UK ask consumers what they'll do with unwanted gifts

KPMG UK ask consumers what they'll do with unwanted gifts

Unwanted Christmas gifts are most likely to be donated to charity, according to new research released today by KPMG in the UK.

KPMG polled 3000 people from across the UK at the beginning of December, asking what they are most likely to do with unwanted gifts that they receive this Christmas.

The most popular option (for 21% of people) was to donate the unwanted gifts to charity – this was also the highest regionally (at 25%) in the North West of England.

The polling also found that people with unwanted gifts and no receipt are least likely to try and exchange them, with a similar number of people (both 4%) saying they would not ask the sender for the receipt.

Trying to sell the item on a second-hand website was the second most popular option (17%), highest regionally in the South West of England (at 21%).

Commenting on the findings, Linda Ellett, UK Head of Consumer, Retail and Leisure for KPMG, said:

“Consumers most commonly saying they will donate unwanted Christmas gifts to charity shows the festive spirit is alive and well in the UK.  Hopefully this will bring a boost to charities, at a time when funding is challenged by the cost of living crisis, yet their services are in greater demand than ever.   

“Consumers also tell us they will turn to second-hand websites in a bid to ensure that they receive value for the item, instead of trying to get a refund for it without a receipt.  While a similar amount said they would avoid it being wasted by looking to re-gift the item during the course of the year. 

“These findings support KPMG research that demonstrates the growth of the circular economy – with one in three consumers saying they will buy more pre-owned items in 2024.  This is nearly double the amount of people saying they would do so compared to the start of 2023 and the increase is likely a combination of people needing to save money and reduce their environmental impact.”

The polling showed the third most selected option for unwanted Christmas gifts (17%) was to store them in the cupboard and think about them later, while 14% of people said that they would re-gift the item(s) to someone else in 2024.  The latter was highest regionally in the West Midlands (18%). 

KPMG UK recently announced it had raised over £1 million for Marie Curie, two years since the firm voted for a partnership with the end-of-life charity.  

Reflecting on the survey findings, Ian Frise, Head of Retail at Marie Curie, added:

“Consumer shopping habits have changed and people are a lot more environmentally and budget conscious, with charity shops playing a key role in where they shop. They are treasure troves, places you can pick up unique items, as well as brand new high quality items.

“As the cost of living continues to bite, people are becoming savvy shoppers and we are starting to witness more young families visit our stores due to the vast array of items for sale.

“Premium quality clothing always sell well. But as we’re in winter, we’re currently looking for bags, jewellery and accessories, as well as toys and games.

“We are grateful to loyal supporters who always donate, as well as people donating on an ad-hoc basis. Every donation and sale goes towards making a difference for people and their loved ones needing our care and support when they are faced with a terminal illness.”

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About the polling:

KPMG used One Poll to survey 3000 UK consumers (of varying genders, ages, regions and income groups) online between the 8th and 11th of December 2023.  One Poll are a member of the British Polling Council.

Consumers were asked: What are you most likely to do with unwanted Christmas gifts that you receive? (Select one).  Saying:

  • 21%: Give them to charity.
  • 17%: Try and sell them via second-hand websites.
  • 17%: Store them and think about it later.
  • 14%: Re-gift them to someone in 2024.
  • 4%: Try and exchange them without receipt.
  • 4%: Ask the gifter for a receipt so you can refund or exchange them
  • 11%: None of the above.
  • 11%: Not sure.


Media contact:

Steven Reilly-Hii, Media Relations Manager (Consumer Markets), KPMG UK, steven.reilly-hii@kpmg.co.uk or 07510 376635

About KPMG UK:

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 20 offices across the UK with approximately 17,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.72 billion in the year ended 30 September 2022.  

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 143 countries and territories with more than 265,000 partners and employees working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.