A resale renaissance. PayPal study reveals second-hand buying and selling habits in the UK
  • A third of Brits purchase second-hand goods more than once a month (32%) – with two thirds (67%) doing so to make their money go further
  • People are selling as well as buying, with the average Brit making £126 in the last year from selling unused items. In fact, the average British household has an estimated £341 worth of unused items gathering dust at home waiting to be resold
  • Over half (53%) say they’ve found reselling their unwanted items as a good way to supplement to their primary income

LONDON, 31st May 2023: With the cost-of-living continuing to bite, the second-hand economy has witnessed a boom as people look to save money on their purchases and generate additional income, new research from PayPal reveals.

PayPal’s Resale Renaissance Report, polling 2,000 UK adults, revealed that reselling has gone mainstream – with a quarter (25%) of Brits saying they regularly purchase pre-loved goods. Clothes (38%), books (31%) and furniture (13%) top Brits’ second-hand shopping lists, the new report reveals.

Spending for lean and green reasons

When delving into what is driving Britain’s thrift shoppers, not surprisingly, saving money is the leading reason, with two thirds (67%) buying pre-loved items to make their money go further. Thrifty Brits, it appears, have become value seekers, with over half (51%) choosing to shop pre-loved items in search of a bargain.

People are increasingly becoming conscious shoppers. Over a third (35%) say they shop second-hand items to try to be more sustainable and help reduce waste. But Brits are a stylish bunch too, saying they shop second-hand items because:

  • they can find unique one-of-a-kind items (23%)
  • they wish to reduce the pressure of constantly buying new clothing to keep up with fashion trends (17%)
  • they love vintage items (17%)
  • they want to upcycle and sell on (11%)

Of those who stated they shop second-hand to save money, 37 per cent said they put the extra cash they’ve saved towards their everyday living expenses, whilst 30 per cent said they use it to treat themselves, and 26 per cent said they do it to reduce financial stress.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure

Whilst proactive Brits have turned to second-hand shopping to make their money go further, the report found that Brits are also turning to selling their unused items to supplement their income – in fact, Brits have on average an estimated £341 worth of unwanted items stored around their homes, ripe for resale, and over half (56%) agree that their homes are full of unused belongings. 

The average Brit has generated £126.24 in the last 12 months from a reselling side hustle, making a profit of £20.17 per sale – with over half (53%) admitting that selling items they no longer need is a good way to supplement their primary income source.

19 per cent of Brits say clothes were the item they sold for the highest value – with toys (11%) and technology such as phones and games consoles (11%) completing the list of the most lucrative items sold by novice British resellers.

Whilst 85 per cent of Brits resell some of their pre-loved goods, 14 per cent say they never do. Scepticism plays a part in this, with two in five (40%) not believing they would make enough profit to make it worthwhile. Not knowing where to start (36%) and hesitancy around doing transactions with strangers (27%) completed the list of top reasons given.

Vincent Belloc, Managing Director, PayPal UK shared: “With prices soaring, it's no surprise we’re seeing a boom in the second-hand economy. Whether it’s shopping or selling on online marketplaces or resale mobile apps or using the Goods and Services peer-to-peer payments on our mobile app at car boot sales, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing PayPal keeps your financial information safe.”

Second-hand’s new home is online

Once restricted to charity shops and car boot sales, second-hand shopping is moving increasingly online, the report found.

Almost half of UK thrift shoppers (44%) say they have purchased items from an online marketplace such as Depop in the last year, whilst a fifth (18%) have turned to social media to seek out pre-loved purchases.

However, despite the popularity of reselling platforms, Brits still have some concerns around the quality of the goods they’re purchasing, as well as the fear of being scammed. In fact, over half (57%) say they worry about the quality of items when second-hand shopping online, and a further 56% say they worry about dishonest sellers.

This caution may explain why in-real-life thrift shopping is still proving popular with shoppers looking for second-hand bargains. Over half (52%) of Brits say they purchased pre-loved items from charity shops in the last year, while a fifth (20%) bought from a car boot sale and 17 per cent direct from friends or family.

When asked what would increase the trust shoppers have in buying items from online marketplaces, top answers included offering recognised payment methods such as PayPal (53%), reviews and comments left for the seller (50%) and having multiple images of the item (36%) were the most important factors for shoppers.

The new North / South divide - online vs. bricks and mortar shopping

London and Newcastle emerged as Britain’s thrifting capitals, with two fifths (41%) of residents surveyed in each city saying they shop second-hand more frequently than monthly. Online marketplaces are the leading shopping destination for Londoners (49%), while those in Newcastle favour sourcing second-hand bargains via more traditional methods, with charity and thrift shops their leading choice (47%).

Millennials lead the way as the UK’s biggest resellers – with a third (31%) saying they resell items they don’t use often, over three times as many as their counterparts aged 55 and over. Two thirds of millennials (66%) say they view their reselling side hustle as a good way to supplement their primary income.

Head to the PayPal website and newsroom for smart-spending guides and to find out more about PayPal’s payment solutions.

1 PayPal’s 2023 Resale Renaissance Report, an online poll of 2,000 UK adults (nationally representative) conducted by OnePoll in May 2023.

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