The phrase "it's just what I wanted" is, it seems, as hollow as the cynics and Scrooges would have liked.
Around ?4 billion (US$7.83 billion) of gifts received by Britons this year were entirely unwanted, according to a study out on Tuesday.
The "wrong gift" apparently cost the equivalent of ?92 per person. The research, conducted for the online auction site eBay, found that Britons would receive an average of seven presents each this Christmas. A third of those gifts would remain untouched.
London appeared to be the capital of unwanted presents, with almost 1 million misplaced gifts. Residents of the northeast appear to be the most thoughtful, buying fewer than 300,000 of the wrong gifts.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents told researchers they would look to make money out of their unused presents, selling them on as second-hand bargains.
Richard Kanareck, a spokesman for eBay, described the process of selling on unwanted presents on auction sites with the euphemism "re-homing."
"It's only natural that some presents miss the mark or that some lucky people receive doubles. Whether it's the wrong color, size, something you've already got or simply a gift you don't want, re-homing a present means it will find a new owner who will appreciate it, as well as the opportunity to recoup some money in the process," he said.
The auctioneer's Web site was a little more direct, with front-page links for buying and selling gifts beside the slogan: "Didn't drop enough hints? Didn't get the dream present? Buy it now."
By Tuesday night, hundreds of presents had found their way on to the site. They were mostly clothes, jewelry or other accessories, such as bags or scarves, but also video games and CDs.
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