New research by the Spirit of Christmas Fair, the UK’s leading high-end Christmas shopping event, has found that our friends are by far, the most likely to suffer as a result of our “gift envy”. 7 in 10 people in the UK admitted that they have purchased gifts for their friends, only to decide that they would rather keep it themselves. A small percentage (6%) also admitted that they would even steal from their children.

The full list of those we experience gift envy with, who we purchase gifts for but decide to keep for ourselves:

  1. Friends (70%)
  2. Acquaintances (8%)
  3. Parents (7%)
  4. Children (6%)
  5. Colleagues (5%)
  6. Partner (3%)
  7. Parents-in-law (1%)
Almost half (41%) of people admitted that when on a mission to purchase gifts for others, they end up purchasing a gift for themselves too. And when asked about the most important factor when purchasing gifts for others, 61% admitted that the amount we spend is determined by how “nice” they are to us. Other factors included choosing something that was multi-purpose to increase the likelihood they’ll find a good use for it (24%), and something that they could display or show off as a reminder of our generosity (14%).

Most of people also feel that they have great taste when it comes to choosing gifts with 66% stating that they always choose a gift they would like themselves, regardless of whether the recipient would choose it, because “if I like it, they will like it”.

The research has also proved that “retail therapy” is real with 71% of people in the UK admitting that shopping is their most therapeutic experience.

Thi Dinh, Retailer Expert & Show Manager at the Spirit of Christmas Fair says:

Retailers traditionally see significant uplift in the number of people beginning their festive shopping in late October, early November. This prime shopping period is one of the most important times for both high street retailers and independent boutiques as they showcase their big-ticket items among affluent shoppers who tend to begin their festive shopping earlier than most.

However, our new consumer research found that shoppers tend to use this time to their advantage, by literally shopping for themselves. It’s extremely common for shoppers to act on something we call “gift envy” – that is when people cannot bear to part with a gift they have purchased for others, so much so that they decide to keep it for themselves. Many go so far as to keep gifts back from their parents, and even their children.

And it seems that retail therapy really does exist, with a significant majority of people (71%) stating that they find it to be a therapeutic experience. And if during the experience, they manage to pick up a gift for themselves, I’m sure that also plays a role in contributing to the pleasure of shopping.”