I'm dreaming of a secondhand Christmas

Most Australians say they would be happy to receive a secondhand present this Christmas but are shy about giving one for fear of looking cheap.

The average Australian spends more than $600 on Christmas gifts each year, or more than $9 billion nationwide, according to a study by Galaxy Research commissioned by Gumtree. Parents are the highest spenders, forking out $776 on average, and Millennials the lowest, with an average budget of $473. Most believe they could shave a third off the presents bill if they bought secondhand.

Kathryn Cameron, from Castle Hill, in western Sydney, is one of the 700,000 Australians who regularly give secondhand presents.

"I've found through the years bringing up my family that I would buy brand new things and they were often not used that long," Ms Cameron said. "Why spend the money on new items when you're going to get the same results buying secondhand? I'm saving hundreds overall."

The 51-year-old office manager is shopping for her husband, five children or stepchildren, and three grandchildren.

She started buying secondhand a few years ago when she was looking for a surfboard for a family member but didn't feel comfortable visiting surf shops in person. She says she saved about $400 on the surfboard alone.

She now buys the majority of gifts for family secondhand. It requires organisation - she asks people what they want and starts looking in September - but saves time overall.

"You've got more time to do it because you can be sitting there at home watching TV and looking online at the same time," Ms Cameron says. "It's a lot more effective than spending time going to the shops and fighting for a car spot."

This year she is looking for a trampoline for her grandchildren, and a FitBit, among other gifts she'd prefer to keep as a surprise.

The Galaxy research, based on a nationally representative sample of 1264 respondents aged 18 to 64, found 77 per cent of Australians would consider buying someone a secondhand or vintage item as a Christmas present but only 39 per cent have actually done this and then typically only once or twice.

The main reason Australians would buy secondhand is if they found the perfect gift, such as something unique or vintage. Some would be tempted if the item was still in the original packaging or if it was half price or cheaper.

But there's still a stigma. Those who are not tempted to give a secondhand present say they're worried about looking cheap or because the gift might look secondhand.

And a substantial minority of people (45 per cent) say they would not be happy to accept a secondhand gift. Among those, almost three out of four said they wouldn't be happy to receive it, even if the gift giver had gone out of their way to find something they wanted that would be out of their price range if bought new.

Australians are most likely to give a secondhand gift to family - 55 per cent of survey respondents would give one to their spouse and 53 per cent would give one to their child.

"It's mainly just been for my family," Ms Cameron said. "It depends on the age or condition. If something didn't look brand new I wouldn't give that to someone outside my family but if it looked brand new I would."

This story I'm dreaming of a secondhand Christmas first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.