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Study: Demand for secondhand, returned goods — including furniture — exploding

Affluent consumers are leading the charge in resale shopping, according to a FloorFound study.

Value is top of mind for all consumers — including the most affluent — as resale expands beyond apparel.

Consumer demand for secondhand and returned items is exploding amid inflation and economic uncertainty, according to a survey by FloorFound. The recommerce market grew twice as fast as the wider retail market in 2021 and is expected to reach $289 billion by 2027. 

The study revealed that affluent consumers are leading the recommerce revolution, driven by dual concern for value and the environment — and that demand for resale goes far beyond used clothing.

Nine in 10 Americans (89%) will look for lightly used or resale options before purchasing new furniture, the study found. (Resale includes consigned, thrift, trade-in, refurbished and open box/returned items.) Survey respondents point to worn-out couches (39%), end or coffee table (18%) and living room chairs (16%) as the items they most need to replace in their living space.

While resale resonates with consumers at every income level, affluent shoppers making more than $175,000 a year are leading the charge. Nearly nine in 10 of these affluent shoppers (86%) have previously bought a resale item — 14 percentage points higher than the survey average.

High-income shoppers choose value first with everyone else, but stand apart when it comes to environmental impact, according to the survey. Nearly half (44%) cite sustainability as a reason to buy resale — 6 percentage points higher than the survey average.

Other highlights from the study are below.

• Saving money is the top reason to buy lightly used or resale furniture, cited by 73% of survey respondents. Additional incentives include "find unique items that aren't widely available" (39%) and "support sustainability / reduce waste" (38%).

• Value is even more important to resale shoppers who plan to buy large items in the next six months, cited by 89% of these respondents — 16 percentage points higher than overall.

• Shoppers who buy resale are hooked: 97% of respondents who have bought resale in the past look for used furniture before buying new items.

“Consumer demand for resale is a bright spot for retailers facing economic headwinds," said Chris Richter, CEO of FloorFound. "Shoppers are looking to purchase resale instead of new, and we've seen that shift reflected in the 4x growth in consumer spending on recommerce items from brands leveraging FloorFound in the last year alone. But to stand out and succeed with recommerce, each retailer will need to develop a program that is uniquely suited to their business and clientele.

The online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 - 60 was conducted in October 2022.

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