Online marketplaces report surge in sales of secondhand goods

Online marketplaces are experiencing a surge in sales of secondhand goods amid the cost of living crisis and customers choosing to shop more sustainably.

Amazon said it had seen a 15% increase in sales of secondhand goods in the first nine months of the year, with sales across the UK and Europe hitting £1bn a year.

In the UK, eBay said there had been a 20% year-on-year rise in secondhand fashion listings after launching its partnership with ITV’s reality show Love Island, and a 140% rise in sales of secondhand furniture.

Globally, eBay’s sales of non-new categories are expected to grow from $575bn (£450bn) at present to $750bn by 2025, 50% faster than branded new-in-season products over the same period.

The delivery firm Yodel said it had seen a 162% increase in deliveries between homes, driven predominantly by secondhand parcels.

Amazon, which opens a London pop-up shop on Wednesday in partnership with charity Barnardo’s to promote its Second Chance ranges, has been under pressure over the volume of returned goods and their environmental impact. Last year it faced a backlash over allegations that unsold stock and returned stock was destroyed, although the company claimed the items were being recycled rather than sent to landfill.

The market for secondhand goods is booming, with shoppers using sites such as Depop and Vinted to buy and sell goods. Vinted’s sales rose by 51% and Depop’s 8% last year when sales at many fast-fashion retailers slipped back.

Globally, the $177bn secondhand clothing market is expected to nearly double in size by 2027, three times faster than the overall market, according to a recent report by the US marketplace ThredUp.

John Boumphrey, the UK country manager for Amazon, said it had been selling secondhand items for 18 years but interest in such items had risen as households sought to cut costs during the cost of living crisis and to live more sustainably.

Boumphrey said Amazon shoppers had also been switching to private label or less well-known brands to save cash.

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He said Amazon had an economic incentive to promote resale of items as well as an environmental one, as it could resell returned items by repairing and checking them over.

The company says it is increasingly donating items to charity that it could not resell. Amazon already works with other companies including Unilever, Morrisons, Tesco and Kraft Heinz to offer essential goods including nappies, bedding and school shoes to struggling families via the former prime minister Gordon Brown’s Multibank initiative.

A further six Multibanks are set to open by the end of next year with the aim of helping 500,000 families.

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