Dreaming of an ethical Christmas? 2017 set to be the best year yet for ‘conscious’ seasonal spending

Tom Lawson

UK shoppers are on course to buy more ethically than ever this December, according to new research

This Christmas is set to be the ‘most ethical’ on record, say those at Ethical Consumer magazine whose annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report has tracked Britain’s ethical spending since 1999.

The latest report, published this week, shows that the UK ethical market grew 3.2 per cent in 2016, compared to general retail growth of less than 1 per cent. It means that for the fourteenth consecutive year, sales of ethical products here have grown faster than sales of non-ethical goods. The UK’s ethical market is now worth £81.3bn across 27 business sectors.


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“It is encouraging to see that more and more people are consciously choosing ethical options at Christmas and rejecting mindless consumerism,” said Bevis Watts, managing director at leading sustainable bank Triodos, who sponsored the report. “Where we spend, save and invest has a huge impact on our environment and the world around us.”

Sales of ethical clothing increased by 22.4 per cent and the sector is now worth £36 million. There was also a 9.7 per cent increase in sales of ethical food and drink from 2015 to 2016. The organic food and drink market grew to £1.8bn, a year-on-year increase of 3.8 per cent. Sales of sustainable fish increased by 36.9 per cent and the sector is now worth £694m.

Shoppers increasingly want to know that products come from somewhere local to reduce their carbon footprint

One driving factor appears to be an increase in people shopping ethically in their local communities for environmental reasons, which rose 16 per cent in 2016 according to a YouGov survey conducted for the report.

Rob Harrison, co-editor at Ethical Consumer, told Positive News: “The growth in local shopping is a particularly significant trend in a world where it can feel like everything is going online. It appears that demand for locally produced artisan food, from bread to craft beer, is driving a revival of local shopping.

Where we spend, save and invest has a huge impact on our environment and the world around us

“Shoppers increasingly want to know that products come from somewhere local to reduce their carbon footprint. There has also been a big trend away from meat consumption generally. At Christmas time this could be, as they say, good news for turkeys.”

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