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Oxfam warns £218mn worth of novelty clothes cast aside by new year

UK consumers are set to celebrate Christmas in festive fashion this year, with a quarter of shoppers planning to snap up a novelty item of clothing which they will then barely wear, Oxfam has warned.

Research from the charity has revealed that novelty clothing is no joke when over 12 million items will be cast aside after just a few wears. A study of 3,000 shoppers who celebrate the festive season, carried out by OnePoll for Oxfam, found that over a quarter of respondents (26%) plan to buy a novelty item of clothing in the run up to Christmas, with seven in 10 revealing they expect to wear their jokey purchases less than five times, and 15% admitting they’ll only wear them once.

Oxfam then calculated that if all UK adults planning to buy festive fashion items this Christmas bought them second hand, it could prevent a whopping 66 million kilogrammes of carbon dioxide emissions entering the atmosphere.

Oxfam, which has more than 550 charity shops in the UK, is encouraging festive fashionistas to buy their Christmas-themed clothes second hand this year and donate them back to charity after the festivities to help tackle the climate crisis.

Lorna Fallon, Oxfam retail director, said: “Throwaway festive fashion is devastating for the planet as the fashion industry is one of the worst offenders for greenhouse gas emissions. By recirculating festive fashion items – buying, wearing and donating second hand – we can help to reduce the demand for new. And this could in turn help to reduce the damage to our planet.

“Our research shows that many Christmas-themed clothes will be forgotten about after just five wears so we really hope that people will consider buying their Christmas jumpers and festive fancy dress second hand this year and then donate them to Oxfam when the New Year novelty wears off.

“Shopping and donating second hand is one step we can all take towards building a better, safer, fairer world, not just at Christmas but year-round.”

Data from the survey also showed £17.20 is the average spend on novelty attire, with 18-24 year-olds most likely to be the ones purchasing. Further figures also show Wales tops Scotland and England for festive fashion shoppers.

Additional statistics from Oxfam’s study found that a quarter (24%) of seasonal shoppers will be partaking in a Secret-Santa event this year, usually with friends, family or colleagues. Of these, they’ll typically be involved in three Secret-Santas each, spending £16 on average per present.

And more than half would be happy to buy their Secret-Santa presents in a charity shop, according to the figures.

Fallon added: “Whilst Secret-Santa can be a good way to save money – as the theory is you only have to buy one gift instead of lots – our research shows that shoppers are planning to spend on average £48 each on Secret-Santa gifts alone.

“That’s why we are encouraging festive shoppers do Secret-Santa differently this year. Buying charitable gifts and pre-loved presents makes the Christmas budget go that little bit further and has the added good cheer of helping to support people and communities around the world, including those hit hard by the climate crisis.

“Books are our most popular secret Santa gifts, so some of our shops even offer pre-wrapped Secret-Santa books, to make it even easier to give a gift that gives back.”

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