Most consumers believe retailers should donate surplus stock – survey

Landfill site at Albury, near Guildford Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA

More than half of Britons would shop elsewhere if a retailer was throwing away surplus stock rather than giving it to charity, according to a survey.

The Prince of Wales-founded charity In Kind Direct has called on more retailers and manufacturers to prevent their unsold products from going to landfill by donating them to those in need.

A total of £2 billion worth of unwanted, surplus consumer goods are produced in the UK each year, with levels peaking in January and unsold goods often heading to landfill, incineration or discount retailers, according to research carried out by PwC on behalf of In Kind Direct.

Some 52% of Britons would feel disappointed if they knew that a business was not giving its surplus stock to charity, and 51% would go as far as choosing to shop in other stores, rising to 60% of those aged 16 to 24, the poll for In Kind Direct suggests.

Almost three quarters of Britons (73%) said they would be throwing away clothes in January, while 38% planned to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents and a quarter said they would be throwing away toiletries.

Some 74% of Britons believe that retailers’ surplus stock should be donated to charity, with three out of five people saying that businesses have a responsibility to do so, the survey indicates.

In Kind Direct chief executive Robin Boles said: “More and more businesses are thinking about the impact they are having on the environment and what they can do to improve any negative effect their businesses make. At the same time, employees are choosing to work in companies that take positive social action.

“We have seen a sharp rise in the number of people who increasingly rely on support from charities across the UK and the products we supply.”

Retail expert Kate Hardcastle said: “Retail businesses need to listen to the wishes of customers more than ever before. Trading ethically and respectfully is high up on a customer’s wish list.

“It makes good business sense for organisations to put their surplus stock to good use to help communities, not least because this new research highlights just how much customers appreciate it and it’s an obvious way to reflect their wishes.”

Censuswide surveyed 4,001 UK adults between December 14-19.