Marketplace had a story the other day about the gift wrapping industry, which accounts for over $3 billion a year in retail sales. That seems incredibly high to me, but I guess when pretty much everyone buys your product each year, it's not hard to end up with that kind of money.
I hadn't realized that the idea of decorative wrapping was only about a hundred years old until I heard that Marketplace story, and read this article. Oh, there had been plenty of wrapping before that, largely to protect the gift until it could be delivered. Japan has a tradition of using wrapping cloths, or furoshiki. China may have been the first culture to wrap gifts in paper, way back in the Song dynasty. But those were primarily functional, not decorative.
So don't feel bad about ripping the paper off those gifts this year. (Do recycle it, though.) It might be inefficient, but it's good for the retail industry.