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Unwanted Christmas gifts a bonus for charities

Unwanted Christmas gifts a bonus for charities

The majority of unwanted Christmas gifts end up at a local charity shop, according to research by the Charities Aid Foundation.

The research, which was carried out by Populus and polled more than 2,000 people aged 18 and over, reveals that three out of five people have received unwanted Christmas presents with almost 70% giving them to charity. Only 3% are brave enough to admit the gift wasn’t right and seek an exchange, and just 2% return them or ask for a refund.

Clothes were the most common item to be donated to charity at 47%, followed by toiletries at 24%, books at 16%, and toys at 9%.

  • 58% overall admit to not having kept or used a Christmas present in the past: 64% of women and 51% of men
  • 67% give them to charity: 71% of women and 58% of men
  • 59% have also given unwanted presents to friends and family, recycled them (35%), or sold them on eBay (4%)


Unwanted devices such as mobile phones and laptops also regularly end up at charity shops, according to the research. 17% have given away an older device or appliance to charity when buying new technology. The most common technology given to charity is mobile phone (65%), followed by PCs (22%), laptops (16%), tablets (7%) and televisions (3%).

John Low, CAF chief executive, said:

“The festive season is a time when people are tremendously generous to each other and giving is in the forefront of our minds. Charities can really benefit at Christmas as so many of us try and find valuable uses for well-intentioned gifts which might not quite hit the spot. It is wonderful that people are thinking about the wider community and making the best of that woolly jumper which will never be worn.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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