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UK's annual spend on ethical products exceeds £100bn

Jeremy Lim
04 January 2022

The UK’s annual expenditure on ethical products and investments has amounted to £122 billion amid the ongoing pandemic and heightening urgency of addressing the climate crisis.

According to Co-op’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report, which tracks consumer shopping habits across the UK, the 'green pound' has broke through the £100 billion mark for the first time, doubling its amount in 2010 (£51 billion).

Concerns over Fairtrade, animal welfare and sustainable food sourcing accounted for almost £9 billion in consumer spending as British shoppers turn to businesses that hold independent certifications such as the Rainforest Alliance and RSPCA Freedom Assured.

The resale sector also saw significant growth, reflecting the growing financial and environmental concerns. The market for second-hand clothing increased by almost 20%, reaching £864 million while spending on ethical clothing amounted to £57 million.

Sales of ethical cosmetics also increased, rising by 11% to £976 million, boosted by the uplift in online shopping and skincare products during the pandemic.

British consumers are also actively boycotting brands due to social or environmental concerns. The report revealed that ethical shunning has risen to almost £4 billion, an 18% surge compared to the previous year (£600m).

The Co-op Group’s CEO, Steve Murrells, said in a statement: "Our Ethical Consumerism Report is a barometer on consumer behaviour and shoppers are turning up the heat to boycott businesses which fail to act on ethical or social concerns. The report is a warning to brands that they must do business a better way for workers, communities and the planet but it offers clear evidence to policy-makers that they can positively influence change."

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