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UK ethical consumerism amounts to 122 billion pounds, according to report

By Rachel Douglass

3 Jan 2022

Business

Image: Co-op

The UK’s ethical consumer spending and finance have reached record levels, according to supermarket giant Co-op, amounting to 122 billion pounds, however, brand boycotting has simultaneously seen a sharp rise.

For the first time, Britain’s ‘green pound’ has broken through the 100 billion pound mark, as stated in Co-op’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report which tracks consumer shopping habits. According to the supermarket, the ‘green pound’ has more than doubled from 51 billion pounds in ten years.

However, it further reported that British consumers are increasingly withholding cash to boycott brands due to social or environmental concerns. Ethical shunning has risen to almost four billion pounds, also reaching a record level of an 18 percent increase in comparison to the previous year.

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.”

“Every business will have a role to play…”

The report revealed that concerns over Fairtrade, animal welfare and sustainable food sourcing now account for almost nine billion pounds in consumer spending. Businesses that held independent certifications, including the likes of the Rainforest Alliance and RSPCA Freedom Assured, all rose in value as they continue to aid in consumer decision-making.

Additionally, the group found second-hand clothing sales hit 864 million pounds, as British consumers turned to the reuse of clothing. Furthermore, the ethical cosmetics category grew to almost one billion pounds, seeing an 11 percent increase that was primarily boosted by the pandemic-led shift to online shopping.

Murrells added: “I had the privilege of attending COP26 and whilst we can all agree the summit did deliver some progress, the hard yards begin now. Every business will have a role to play and we’re clear that a key part of our role is to help educate on how customers can make a difference by changing how they shop. And we know that we can achieve greater things together, which is why we’ve promised with our supermarket counterparts to halve our environmental impacts by the end of this decade.”

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