Ethical spending 'up almost a quarter'

Ethical spending grew almost a quarter - 23.7 per cent - in 2020, reaching almost £121.91 billion according to a report by Co-op.

In the report, ethical consumerism was defined as personal allocation of funds, including consumption and investment, where choice has been informed by a particular issue - including human rights, social justice, the environment, or animal welfare.

The overall size of the ethical consumer market has risen massively since the late 1990’s according to the report and was just £11.2 billion in 1999.

The report looked at spending on ethical food and drink, green home products, eco-travel and transport, ethical personal products, community outlets as well as on boycotts and ethical money products.

The report estimated ethical spending per household at around £2,189, a rise of 113 per cent from 2010 when it was £1003 according to Co-op.

Eco-travel and transport were the fastest growing categories overall, with spending growing 72.6 per cent to hit £12.21 billion in 2020, which Co-op said was largely attributable to the 93 per cent rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), which it said exceeded £10 billion.

‘Green home’ was the second fastest growing category, with consumers spending 34.6 per cent more on products such as energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient boilers, ethical cleaning products, and green electricity tariffs for an overall total of £20,503 billion.

The report also highlighted an increased interest in local shopping and said there was a 6 per cent increase in spending in local shops in 2020, hitting £3.07 billion overall.

Spending on ethical personal products also grew substantially, rising 16.2 percent to £1.9 billion in 2020 according to Co-op, as consumers favoured products such as sustainable clothing, clothes buying for re-use, and ethical cosmetics.

"Our Ethical Consumerism Report is a barometer on consumer behaviour, and shoppers are turning up the heat to boycott businesses that fail to act on ethical or social concerns,” said Steve Murrells chief executive at Co-op Group. "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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