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Consumer boycotts costing big brands £2.6bn annually

LONDON - Boycotts by ethical shoppers are costing big brands £2.6bn each year according to a report by the Co-operative Bank.

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The Bank's Ethical Purchasing Index, which attempts to measure growth in the ethical products and services sector based on sales data, claims that a total of £5.6bn of consumer spending was governed by issues such as shopping locally, boycotting major brands, recycling and the use of public transport.

Sales of ethical goods and services increased to £6.9bn with a further £7.4bn held in ethical financial services in 2001, placing the total value of the ethical market in the UK at £19.9bn.

The report suggests that 52% of consumers claim to have avoided at least one product on ethical grounds. Most notably sales of energy efficient products now account for 41% of all household appliances sold while 40% of eggs sold are free range.

Ethical spending in the banking sector saw the biggest year-on-year increase, rising 16% to £3.9bn, although money invested in ethical funds dropped 8% to £3.5bn.

However, despite the increase in sales, the survey suggests that the overall market share of ethical goods and services remains less than 2%. It noted that while 80% of consumers opposed the testing of cosmetics on animals, the volume of sales complying with the Humane Cosmetics Standard remain below 2%.

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