Millions of people around the globe are set to engage in a new kind of commerce this week – selling unwanted Christmas presents online and buying things they really want instead.
Ebay, the world’s largest auction site with 68m registered users, is bracing itself for a busy post-Christmas online auction season. In an Ebay survey, more than half of Americans say they “re-gift” presents they do not like, will not use or that do not fit. A surprisingly large number – 11 per cent – say they have sold an unwanted gift online. In the 25-34 age group, that figure doubles to 22 per cent.
In the UK, a Nielsen/Net Ratings survey says 15 per cent of UK online shoppers plan to sell unwanted Christmas gifts online.
A further 35 per cent are considering it – with women more likely to do so than men.
Ebay says it has no idea how many people sell unwanted gifts on its site as sellers seldom reveal the motive for a sale.
But according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life project, 25m Americans have sold something online.
Ebay says activity picks up after holidays in categories “that are prime for re-gifts: ugly sweaters, fruitcake . . . gift cards”.
Last year, during the fortnight after the holiday, daily Ebay listings for women’s sweaters rose 16 per cent, compared with the fortnight before Christmas.
Food and wine listings rose 25 per cent and listings of exercise and fitness equipment, books and videos rose 27 per cent.
“This is a great way to dip your feet into the auction culture,” says Daniel Nissanoff, author of the upcoming book FutureShop: How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionize the Way We Buy, Sell and Get the Things We Really Want. He says traditional regifting will diminish as online auctions become more popular and easier to use.