The Gift That Keeps On Being Given

We’ve already waxed semi-lyrical about the regifting of Christmas unwanteds on Trade Me, but we just came across some fascinating new stats and couldn’t resist doing some regifting of our own.

Firstly, some fast factoids courtesy Trade Me’s head of commercial, Mike O’Donnell:

“Last year we saw regifting start to take off around 28 December, this year it was evident by Boxing Day evening.

“Over two thousand items put up in the two days immediately after Christmas have been identified as being unwanted Christmas presents, however the real number is likely to be more than twice that as the social stigma of selling a present prevents many from ‘fessing up’.

“We estimate that about half of our recent growth in listings has been driven by people liquidating unwanted gifts,” said Mr O’Donnell.

“The five most popular items for regifting so far this Christmas are gift vouchers, cosmetics, jewellery, music CDs and kitchen appliances.  Previously popular regifting items included ties, boxer shorts and chocolates.

That’s the view from Trade Me. Global giant eBay, on the other hand, announced at the end of the official holiday season that “more than a million gifts have been offered for sale and as an opportunity to be re-gifted.”

“We see a noticeable rise in listings after Christmas as people look to rehome their unwanted presents and raise some extra cash for the New Year.

“Patterned ties, bubble bath, socks and the obligatory foot spa are firm favourites guaranteed to pop up on Boxing Day.”

According to eBay’s annual re-gifting survey (conducted by Harris Interactive and reported by ABC News) 83% of American adults receive unwanted gifts during the holiday season. This can’t be just the casual-acquaintance category of gifts–it has to include gifts from loved ones too. This means that most people are potential re-gifters or resellers. Do you think the gift you gave could end up being re-gifted? The survey said that nearly half of those adults (47%) typically re-gift or resell items.

Better than re-gifting, and becoming more and more acceptable, is reselling. Businesspeople and housewives, college students and professionals are all finding their way to an Internet-driven marketplace to sell their gifts and fatten their wallets. eBay to the rescue. The same survey found that unwanted does not mean unappreciated: Nearly one-third of all adults surveyed (32%) would rather get a present they could re-gift or resell than not get a present at all.

eBay Canada, getting into the ‘spirit’ of the anti-season, offers up its own (somewhat materialistic) point of view:

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with re-gifting, as long as it’s done the right way. Just because a gift isn’t your style or taste doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for someone else. Storing an unwanted gift at the back of your closet is just a waste – why not re-gift it and let someone else enjoy it?”

Not only that, but eBay Canada even provides some re-gifting etiquette to help you re-purpose those unwanted holiday gifts:

  • Don’t re-gift the re-gifter – Lots of people have horror stories of proudly presenting a gift they pulled from the back of the closet to a friend or family member, only to have them say “Didn’t I give this to you?” Avoid embarrassment by writing the name of the giver on a sticky note and placing it on the gift itself.
  • Make a list – If you received a number of gifts that just aren’t your taste, make a note of a friend or family member who you know will love it. Or think about a special event that might be on the horizon, like a wedding or anniversary. If you’re confident the gift is on someone else’s wish list, you’ll be able to hand it over to someone who will really appreciate it.
  • Don’t keep it in the family – If you received an unwanted gift from your cousin, don’t re-gift it to her sister! Be discreet and only re-gift to someone who doesn’t come into regular contact with the original sender. Selling your item on eBay is a great way to avoid having to explain why your gift is suddenly hanging on someone else’s wall.
  • Accept graciously – Sometimes you get a gift that you really dislike but it’s from someone you see very often and don’t want to offend. If that’s the case, accept it graciously. If it’s something wearable, like jewelry or a scarf, wear it once or twice in their presence so they can feel good about it. If it’s something for the house, like a vase, keep it in the closet until you know the person will be visiting; then whip it out and give it pride of place. It’s always best to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
  • Donate it – Charities are often looking for special items. Instead of hiding unwanted gifts of clothing in the bottom drawer, donate them to a shelter. Or donate a quirky item to an organization’s charity auction. Your re-gifting will make a difference to someone who really needs it.
  • Sell it – Selling an unwanted gift is a win/win situation. You’ve passed it on to someone who really wants it, and you’ve experienced some joy from the gift itself (albeit in the form of cash!) This especially comes in handy in January when you’re reeling from your holiday credit card bill. Selling it online virtually guarantees finding someone who will love your item and pay top dollar for it!
  • Enjoy the spirit of the season! – This time of the year is about family, togetherness and sharing, so appreciate the thought behind your gift, no matter how much or how little it appeals to you – and remember to send a note of thanks!

Thanks eBay! Those sweet sentiments make us feel so special …

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