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Gifting from the closet: thoughtful or thoughtless?

Thyra Uth Thomsen (Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Judith Lynne Zaichkowsky (Beedie School of Business, Simon fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




This study aims to investigate the random collection of items for gifting which are stored in one’s home in a special place. Traditional gift-giving models suggest gift givers buy gifts for certain recipients on certain occasions. This study ' s journey into gift storage finds that some gift-giving practices are initially acquisition-less, recipient-less and/or occasion-less.


Based on a convenience sample of 111, the main functions and motivations for gift storage are described. From a free elicitation process of gift-closet attributes, a first account of the symbolic meanings that gift storage is embedded in is provided.


Seventy-seven per cent per cent of the sample had a gift closet where they stored gifts for which either the occasion or the recipient was not known at the time of acquisition. According to these gift-closet owners, the main purposes of gift closets are convenience, thrift and to have a place for surplus or shopping items.

Social implications

While it makes sense to some consumers to prepare for future gift-giving occasions by stockpiling items in gift closets, the results indicate that storage may affect the symbolic value of the gift and, ultimately, the development of social ties. Consumers who gift from the closet believe that there are few negatives involved. However, people who do not have gift closets and receive gifts which they suspect are from storage may perceive a lack of caring and even feel insulted.


Due to the unexplored nature of gift storage, the results reported in this paper represent a first exploratory account of gift storage and its possible effects on the relationship-building capacity of gifts.



The authors wish to thank Brent McFerran for his careful reading of the manuscript and very helpful comments.


Thomsen, T.U. and Zaichkowsky, J.L. (2015), "Gifting from the closet: thoughtful or thoughtless?", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 450-458.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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