Image: © The Irish Labour Party via Flickr

Want to know the economics of Xmas Jumper Day?

It’s a little woolly*.

On Christmas Jumper Day, Brits are encouraged to dress up in their most festive / tackiest jumper to raise money for charity.

What it means: Since Bridget Jones first meet her very own Mr. Darcy wearing a reindeer-spotted number, British people have been super-keen on donning silly Christmas jumpers. In 2012, the charity Save the Children saw an opportunity to use the trend to encourage donations, and set up Christmas Jumper Day. Rules: wear a Christmas jumper, donate £2. The event has raised £17 million.

For most (though not all) people, having charities around is a good thing which mean more vulnerable people are helped out and looked after than otherwise would be. And fundraising days are good at getting people to donate because we’re more likely to cough up cash if we see people around us doing it too.

But not everyone is a fan of Christmas Jumper Day. For one, making it a “Christmas” event might make Brits who don’t celebrate Christmas feel excluded or pressured into purchasing stuff themed with a holiday they don’t identify with. That’s particularly not good considering a lot of workplaces overtly support Christmas Jumper Day. Making staff feel left out is not generally the best way to make them happy and hard-working employees.

Other people point out that the event puts less money into charity’s pockets than it does into the shops that sell Christmas jumpers, which each cost £10-£100. That’s an extra strain on people’s purse before the already-expensive holidays (14 percent of Brits take out payday loans for Christmas costs). And from an environmental standpoint, encouraging people to buy something which will only be worn once or twice is often considered irresponsible.

*No, we’re not even vaguely sorry for how bad that pun was. It’s nearly Christmas. Stop being a Grinch.

Read our explainer on consumer choice theory.

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