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Resale market to get holiday surge, says study

This will be a “secondhand holiday” for many gift-givers amid concerns about product availability.

With the resale market already booming, 77% of American adults said they expect to buy at least one secondhand item this holiday season, according to a report by Mercari, an online marketplace for U.S. consumers who want to shop and sell items no longer being used. Collectively, this means $69.2 billion may be spent on previously-owned items from October through December 2021, up 24% from last year.

The number one (72%) reason holiday consumers say this will shop resale is to save money. Other top reasons include: finding deals on new or like-new items (36%), finding secondhand holiday shopping easy (32%) and sustainability concerns (22%). Supply chain issues were also cited as another factor encouraging consumers to turn to resale this holiday season.

Clothing ranked as the most popular (40%) secondhand gift holiday shoppers intend to give, followed by toys and games (36%), home decor (35%), electronics (27%) and handbags (27%).

"Sixty-two percent of Americans surveyed indicated they are worried about product availability this holiday season, which will drive some people from retail to resale," said John Lagerling, U.S. CEO, Mercari. "Our research suggests that 20 million people in the U.S. will shop secondhand as a way of avoiding supply chain issues and we estimate they will contribute $7 billion in resale revenues.

Other findings from Mercari’s Secondhand Holiday Report are below.

• The average consumer will spend $342 on secondhand items, up 17.2% from $292 last year. 

• Seventy-seven percent of all adults said they are likely to buy at least one secondhand item over the holiday season. Thirty-eight percent will buy secondhand gifts, while 49% will buy something secondhand for themselves or their homes.

•Ten percent of American secondhand consumers polled say they will shop resale this year because of supply chain issues in traditional retail channels. This projects to 20 million people, with a collective spend of $7 billion, turning to the resale market because of product shortages. 

• The holidays will also fuel the supply of products for the secondhand market as people will receive an average of 3.8 unwanted gifts which projects to 997 million (almost 1 billion) items that can potentially be resold. 

• Unwanted holiday gifts present a big opportunity for consumers to make money through resale. Thirty-six percent of those who receive unwanted gifts are planning to resell them.

"Although Americans give generously over the holidays, they will receive an average of 3.8 gifts that they don't really want," said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData. "Across the whole country, this adds up to a whopping 997 million items that are not needed and are unlikely to be used. The vast majority of these things can be resold for reuse, which will then supply the reuse ecosystem."

Mercari's 2021 Secondhand Holiday Report was produced in association with GlobalData in October 2021. Consumer statistics are based on a September 2021 survey of 2,009 Americans ages 18-75 conducted by third-party online market research company Zogby Analytics for Mercari.

Download the full Secondhand Holiday Report here.

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