10,000 new eBay sellers sell and recycle pre-owned items in last year

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UK shoppers are buying and selling more pre-owned fashion online now than five years ago, as ‘sustainable’ fashion becomes increasingly popular according to internal stats from eBay. Recycling pre-owned items is on the increase and a trend that sellers of fashion will want to exploit to the full.

“Consumers are picking up the pace in their backlash against today’s throwaway fashion society and it is evident on both sides of the eBay platform, with millions more used items being bought and sold now than five years ago.”
– Helen Riley, Head of Fashion, eBay

eBay’s figures reveal that UK shoppers spent £187 million on over 20 million pre-owned fashion items on the site in the 12 months to June 2019, a 15% increase compared with 2014, as circular economy values influence today’s mainstream shopping behaviours.

The data also shows UK shoppers are increasingly seeking out more environmentally friendly fashion options. Searches on eBay that include words associated with ‘closed loop’ shopping have increased dramatically in the past three years:

  • ‘Sustainable’ up 600%
  • ‘Used’ up 417%
  • ‘Eco-friendly’ up 344%

The growing demand for shoppers seeking recycling fashion is matched by almost 10,000 new sellers registering on eBay in the 12 months to June 2019 specifically to sell and recycle their pre-owned items. Sellers will want to examine popular keywords and consider including them in their item titles and descriptions.

Popular purchases

The data shows a consistent upward trend over the past five years, with purchases of pre-owned jumpsuits, hats, scarves, swimwear, coats, jackets, handbags, purses and trousers increasing year-on-year.

Sales increases 12 months to June 2019

  • 6 million pre-owned shirts
  • 4.3million Pre-owned dresses
  • 2.9million Pre-owned coats
  • Pre-owned jackets up 19%
  • Pre-owned coats up 16%
  • Pre-owned scarves up 16%

Pre-owned jumpsuits saw the biggest growth in purchases in the five-year period as the trend for lower hemlines and more modest, comfortable fashion grows. Purchases of pre-owned jumpsuits were up 41% compared to five years ago.

Tailor stock to older customers

Middle aged consumers are the driving force behind the rise in purchases of pre-owned fashion. Those aged between 40-49 years bought over four million pre-owned fashion items on eBay in the 12 months to June 2019, the most out of any age group and over six times greater than the number of pre-owned purchases made by the under 30s.

Purchases of pre-owned fashion items have also been incrementally rising over the past five years (July 2014-June 2019) among the baby boomer generations. Shoppers aged 50-59 have bought 16% more pre-owned fashion the 12 months to June 2019 compared to 2014, while purchases among the over 60s have grown 41%.

2017 was a turning point

The data also pinpoints 2017 as a turning point for consumer attitudes to pre-owned fashion – following the ‘Blue Planet effect’. Prior to the airing of Blue Planet 2 in October 2017, purchases of pre-owned items on eBay were incrementally falling. However, from 2017-2019 they jumped by 10%, signalling a shift in consumers’ ethical consciences.

The data also proves the ‘Blue Planet effect’ is impacting the supply of pre-owned fashion items on eBay. In the years following the documentary’s release, over 30,000 new sellers joined eBay to list and recycle pre-owned items, up 7% (2017-2019).

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