New research commissioned by circular tech company Spring has found that 70% of the UK general population is turning to ‘resell therapy’ to help boost income as the cost of living crisis stretches on.
What’s more, 45% of those who have sold a personal belonging claim a boost in mood as further motivation, with the number of feel-good sellers increasing to more than half (52%) of all respondents under 55.
Resell therapy is a growing phenomenon defined as selling second-hand with the purpose of improving the seller’s mood or disposition. This is seen as a relief during periods of economic stress.
The study of over 2,000 members of the UK general population, also found that resell therapy is gaining popularity. A 17% increase in people looking to sell items such as electronic devices and clothes over the next year compared to the previous period (May 2022 – April 2023) illustrates the pace of adoption. This is a further 30% in growth in comparison to May 2021 to April 2022, indicating that reselling is becoming a noticeable trend in 2023 and beyond.
The cost of living crisis fuels the resell revolution
Almost half (48%) of all respondents whose main motivation to resell was making money said it was a result of needing help to pay for rising food, living and bill costs. This was the biggest concern among people aged 55 or older and rose to 55%, and the South West of England is the region most impacted by these concerns (61%).
Even though the over 55s are the most conscious about living costs, younger people are the most likely to act on their concerns with three in five (57%) Brits aged 25-34 having already resold a household item in order to make some extra money since the rise in the cost of living compared to 32% of over 55s.
Positive mood boost influencing consumers
Spring’s study found that nearly half of people (45%) that claimed reselling elicited a positive emotional response, 24% said it made them happy, over a quarter were relieved (18%) and 15% of respondents felt de-stressed.
Reporting a positive emotional response rose to 56% in people aged 16-44, indicating that younger people are more emotionally connected to their motivations, whether making money, avoiding creating waste sent to landfill or decluttering their homes.
A growing second-hand market with tech on the rise
The three most commonly sold items over the past 12 months were clothing (32%), electronic devices (19%) and furniture (17%). Women led the way with selling clothes (41% vs 23%) while men are more likely to sell their tech devices – such as Apple iPhones and iPads (22% vs 16%).
Tech devices was the second most important category after clothing, with 23% and 38% respectively for respondents under the age of 55, suggesting that not only do younger generations have a higher turnover of tech but they are also more aware of the value that pre-owned devices still have.
One in five 16-24 year olds stated that minimising waste and reducing landfill is their primary motivation for reselling, compared to one in nine (11%) respondents aged 55+.
The UK is set to become the largest contributor of e-waste in Europe by 2024 , highlighting the need for more investment into the circular economy and increased efforts from manufacturers to meet sustainability goals.
James Seear, Co-founder of Spring, added, “The research sheds light on the challenges that consumers are facing. The rise of ‘resell therapy’ is a powerful response to the cost of living crisis. It’s encouraging to see that a significant portion of the population is embracing the idea of selling pre-owned items, with positive emotional responses reported by many.
“We must also recognise that this is people pushing back against wasteful consumer culture, particularly in the tech sector. As e-waste rises and resources diminish, it’s crucial for manufacturers and consumers alike to prioritise sustainability and circular economy practices.
“It is unfortunate that the rise in reselling is as the result of a cost crisis, however, leveraging this reselling trend to both enhance financial well-being and drive meaningful change for the sustainability of consumer practices is an important and meaningful mobilisation from the UK public.”
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