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A third have even gone as far as saying no completely to buying any new non-essential items.
More than half (54 percent) experience anxiety when purchasing something new, with 37 percent claiming this feeling has increased within the last year.
Books, children’s clothes, and toys are the top free items people are on the lookout for – with clothing and tech items, such as phones and laptops, also popular.
The study was commissioned by circular economy platform Gumtree, to mark the opening of its pop-up shop, Gumfree – bringing its Freebies section to life in Shoreditch, London, on July 30th.
It also found that, as well as a rise in popularity, there’s also been a positive shift in attitudes towards the phenomenon too, as 45 percent love showing off their goods to others.
Over half (53 percent) feel proud when getting something for nothing, while 27 percent think there’s more “creative freedom” to add a personal touch to their free items.
But although 45 percent are happy to be a bargain hunter, nearly three in ten (28 percent) still feel a stigma around having to hunt items down for free.
Hannah Rouch, a spokeswoman for Gumtree, said: “With the cost-of-living crisis, we’re witnessing the adoption of new consumer habits – one of which is the trend for sourcing everyday items for free.
The fact that well over a quarter still feel there’s a stigma attached to this, is something we need to work to change
Hannah Rouch, Gumtree
“However, the fact that well over a quarter still feel there’s a stigma attached to this, is something we need to work to change.
“We hope that by opening the doors to our Gumfree Freebies Pop-Up Shop, and introducing communities to how canny – as well as sustainable – it can be to search out something for nothing, we can help people delve into the world of freebies and the circular economy.”
The study also found that of those who can’t shake the stigma, 13 percent worry they would be judged by others.
One in six (16 percent) feel embarrassed not to be buying new, and 14 percent even feel ashamed.
But over a third (35 percent) feel there is less stigma when purchasing from strangers – rather than asking friends and family.
And two in five (39 percent) felt more comfortable hunting out no-cost items online, rather than in real life.
Despite this, 35 percent are impressed by their peers’ savvy savings – leading them to inquire how they did it (35 percent), and following suit to do the same (28 percent).
Those aged 45-54 are most keen to ban any new purchases for non-essential items (43 percent).
But the younger generation is also catching the fever, as 25-34-year-olds are most likely to show off their freebies to friends or family.
The study, conducted via OnePoll, also found 42 percent are keen to keep the freebie hunting up as it’s a more sustainable way of shopping – with the same amount wanting it to become more accessible within society.
It also emerged the average adult owns nearly £100 worth of belongings they’d happily part from – resulting in an estimated £3.96billon worth of items, as a nation, that could make for freebie finds for others.
And eight in ten (79 percent) currently own items they’d happily part with for free, to give them a new lease of life.
TV presenter and consumer expert, Angellica Bell, who is working with Gumtree, said: “Many of us are feeling the squeeze right now, and are looking for ways to tighten our belts – exploring alternatives to buying new is a great place to start.
“Setting up online community groups and sifting through sites can turn up some great everyday items, which can help you save a lot and, of course, helps less go to waste.
“By setting up Gumfree, I hope it will show people how many fab things there are out there, which may be no use to your neighbour but perfect for you.”
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