Average household has $5400 worth of unwanted items they could sell online, report finds
John Collett | Caitlin Fitzsimmons | Fairfax Media September 25 2017
Australians are selling more second-hand goods than ever before but nine out of 10 households could make an extra $5400 if they sold unwanted items sitting around at home, new research suggests.
Rick Evans, 70, a recently retired insurance claims systems manager from North Sydney, is one of the three out of five Australians who exchanged nearly 100 million goods in the past year.
Mr Evans regularly culls and sells his unwanted items online through both Gumtree and eBay. He buys second-hand goods as well.
"There's a wonderful efficiency in this," Mr Evans said. "Instead of chucking things into landfill there's often someone who has a use for them."
Gumtree's annual Second Hand Economy Report estimates more than 90 per cent Australians have at least 25 unwanted items, worth about $5400 per household. The findings are based on a survey of 1004 adults, aged 18 to 64, conducted by Galaxy Research in August.
The total value of unwanted goods is estimated to be worth $43.5 billion nationwide – up by $3.5 billion since the 2016 report and up by $19 billion since the first one in 2011.
As a keen photographer, Mr Evans buys and sells photographic equipment every few months. He sold his 17-year-old car a few months ago and some furniture from his weekender about three years ago.
He even managed to sell a children's 10-volume encyclopaedia. Though he didn't get much for it, he's happy to see it re-used
"I put it on thinking no one would want it, but I was pleasantly surprised to get an offer," Mr Evans said.
He doesn't bother trying to sell secondhand clothes, preferring to drop them off at charity clothing bins.
Mr Evans said it's important to have listings with good-quality images and to be honest about the condition of the goods as the second-hand economy works on trust.
As wages growth stagnates, more people are turning their unwanted household items like clothing, shoes, books and CDs, into cash. In fact, nine out 20 sellers reported they had to sell some of their possessions in the past year to manage the cost of living, service debts or just to keep a roof over their heads.
But bargain hunting online is something even former prime ministers do. In late 2015, after saying goodbye to Kirribilli House, Tony Abbott and his wife Margie turned to classifieds website Gumtree in search of a fridge. The couple bought a three-year-old Daewoo fridge that was listed on the website for $300.
Gumtree Australia spokeswoman Kirsty Dunn said the research revealed growing concern for the environment. Nearly two out of five respondents said buying secondhand is better value for money, while 37 per cent said it reduces waste by recycling useful items.
"Australians are becoming less 'throw away' in their attitudes, recognising that the value of the second hand economy goes beyond just cost," Ms Dunn said.
However, the fact the inventory of unwanted but unsold goods per household has grown despite more second-hand goods being bought and sold could indicate that consumption of new items is rising as well.
The most commonly sold items were clothing, shoes and accessories, according to the study. This was followed by books, music, DVDs and CDs and electronic goods.
One in three parents say they have bought second-hand items when having a baby, with the most popular items being toys, cots and baby clothes.
Most survey respondents said they used online platforms to buy and sell second-hand items, while separately eBay estimates seven out of 10 Australian users access the service via the eBay app.