The Fairtrade Foundation announced today that Fairtrade sales rose 43 percent over 2007, defying the economic downturn and reaching an estimated retail value of £700m in 2008. The number of families regularly buying ethical tea, coffee, fruit and clothes in 2008 rose by 1.3 million to 18 million.
Fairtrade sales have seen massive increases in recent years, growing more than tenfold since 2001. While growth is slowing, ethical shopping looks set to weather the recession. A recent survey shows people are still buying more locally produced as well as Fairtrade foods, as well as goods with higher animal welfare standards. Only organic foods have taken a hit, perhaps because they generally command much higher prices.
People seem to be maintaining their commitment to buy ethically, but are trading down within these categories. The fashionable phrase among retail sector analysts is that people are looking for the best "value for their values".