Second-hand economy soared to £21 billion last year in cost-of-living crisis

Sales of second-hand goods soared by 15 percent to £21billion last year, as the cost-of-living crisis continued to bite. A poll of 2,000 adults found six in ten now buy used goods, and spent an average of £661.20 between August 2022 and August 2023 – compared to £484.80 during the previous 12 months.

Books (38 percent), clothes (29 percent), and household items (18 percent) were the most popular pre-loved items.

And 67 percent of used goods were bought online, with 26 percent of consumers using apps like Vinted and Depop.

The study was commissioned by Trustpilot, which has a “Buy with Confidence” blog, and found the surge in second-hand spending is mainly down to the cost-of-living crisis (57 percent).

However, 55 percent simply “love” finding bargains, while 41 percent are driven by a desire to shop more sustainably.

Carolyn Jameson, chief consumer and trust officer for the online reviews platform, said: “Consumers appear to be turning to used goods in their droves.

“And while the current economic climate is a major factor, the study shows ethics are important to consumers too.

“Minimising their impact on the planet by choosing pre-loved items is one way to do this.”

The study also found 62 percent of those polled are concerned about the impact of fast fashion on the environment.

And this might explain why half purchased used garments during the past 12 months – acquiring an average of seven items each, typically spending £35.10 on each item.

It also emerged 51 percent make a greater effort to check the reviews of sellers when buying such used goods over the web.

When it comes to deciding whether to buy used items of any kind – not just clothes – the top factors are price (74 percent) and condition (68 percent).

Clear pictures of the item are also important for four in ten consumers (39 percent) when shopping online, according to the research carried out through OnePoll.

And the savviness involved in this form of shopping might explain why 16 percent actively prefer shopping for second-hand items – the thrill of finding a gem.

Carolyn Jameson added: “Used products can be cheaper, eco-friendly, and practically new if you know where to look – so it’s a no-brainer in many ways.

“However, it’s likely many consumers will want to make sure that they’re making the best decision for them – despite the thrill of a bargain, consumers still want to know they’re not going to be ripped-off.

“That’s why it’s so important to hear from the experiences of customers by checking out independent review platforms like Trustpilot – to make sure you’re buying from businesses you can trust.”

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