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UK’s secondhand market skyrockets in 2020

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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The equivalent weight of 900 double-decker buses has been saved from landfill, thanks to purchases of pre-loved items this year, according to data from eBay, as sales of secondhand fashion soared during lockdown.

The data reveals that two secondhand fashion items were sold every three-seconds between January and July this year on eBay, as consumers looked for more sustainable fashion options, due to the pandemic lockdown.

The marketplace notes that lockdown gave consumers more time to reflect on their shopping habits, and that has led to 12 million people in the UK purchasing a pre-loved item in 2020 so far, with eBay adding that there have been 30 percent more secondhand sales in June 2020, compared to March, and 1,211 percent more preloved sales than at the same time in 2018.

Overall, there has been a 404 percent year-on-year increase in pre-loved sales since 2018, and in 2020, as many pre-loved items as there are people in the UK (66 million), went to a new home in 2020 and extended their lifecycle.

British consumer are leading the way for change, topping the global leaderboard, scoring 117 percent more second-hand sales in 2020 than shoppers in the US.

Emma Grant, head of preloved at eBay said in a statement: “It seems that lockdown ultimately sped up the transition to a greater sustainability-conscious society, as eBay witnessed more pre-loved listings and sales post-lockdown, compared to before.

“With people’s wallets becoming tighter, an uneasiness about going out shopping, and after some time away from the materialism of day-to-day normality, the nation was more in tune than ever with charities, small businesses and caring for the planet.”

Shoppers turn to secondhand clothing during lockdown

When it comes to what people are buying, eBay adds that the nation has become “dramatically more willing to invest in quality pieces” and in 2020, there have been 195,691 percent more purchases for pre-loved high-end designer fashion items than two years ago.

In particular, brands known for their sustainable offerings, such as Stella McCartney, witnessing significantly more sales of their products on eBay this year. When it comes to other luxury brands selling on eBay, Gucci leads the way, followed by Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, and Prada. Completing the top 10 luxury brands are Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Moncler, Christian Dior and Balenciaga.

Gen Z are the real trailblazers, added eBay, with secondhand purchases for some of their favourite brands, including Champion and Fila, higher than last year by 55 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

Topping the chart of high street brands selling as pre-loved items on eBay is Nike, followed by Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, H&M, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Puma, Laura Ashley, North Face and Levi’s.

Secondhand shoppers have also turned to independent retailers, with 28 percent more second-hand purchases coming from small and medium businesses on eBay, than from larger retailers in 2020.

This shift the marketplace added was fuelled by lockdown as Brits shopped 36 percent more from small businesses in June-July than February-March.

The report nation’s sustainable shopping habits has been released to celebrate Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, which runs all month and encourages Britons to pledge to shop only second-hand for 30 days or more to stop clothes from going to landfill.

Oxfam's Sustainability Expert, Fee Gilfeather, said: “One of the few positives to come out of this pandemic is the opportunity to break old habits and build a fairer and more sustainable future. For this year’s Second Hand September campaign, we’re asking people to shop second hand for the month or more.

“eBay’s research shows that people are shopping second hand online more than ever, which is great for the environment. We hope that even more people will choose second hand this month and take the opportunity to support our work fighting poverty and helping communities to protect themselves from coronavirus.”

Grant, added: “Celebrating Second Hand September with Oxfam is a great opportunity to keep the green recovery front of mind and ensure that we all play our part to reduce fast fashion where possible.”

Image: Pexels

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