Our 2021 Secondhand Economy Report: Make $1,700 without leaving the house

Our third annual Secondhand Economy Report shows that every Kiwi is sitting on a goldmine of preloved items.

Way back in 1999, Trade Me was purpose-built to connect Kiwis to buy and sell, faster and easier than ever before. To this day, that remains at the heart of what we do, so we’re thrilled to share our third annual Secondhand Economy Report looking at where, how, and why Kiwis buy, sell and trade preloved items. 

In 2019, we set out to explore New Zealand’s secondhand economy for the first time to understand its scale and significance and track how it evolves over time. This year’s research shows the secondhand economy is stronger than ever in 2021. In the past six months alone 58 per cent of Kiwis have sold a preloved item and two-thirds have bought something secondhand. 

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has changed the way Kiwis trade. Lockdowns have given the country more time at home clearing out cupboards, garages, and wardrobes to get rid of items that no longer spark joy. Combined with a nationwide push towards reducing, reusing, and recycling, our latest Secondhand Economy Report seems more relevant than ever.

The average New Zealander has 26 items they could offload

Today, there are 1.2 million secondhand items on Trade Me at any one time with Kiwis from around the country wheeling and dealing to turn their trash into someone else’s treasure. 

Our latest Secondhand Economy Report found that the average Kiwi has at least 26 unwanted items gathering dust that could be sold for cash in hand. That’s an estimated 133 million secondhand items lurking in people's homes that could make them $1,700. This is a whopping $500 increase when compared with our 2019 stats. 

It couldn’t be a better time to clear out the cupboards and sell as New Zealand’s secondhand economy is stronger than ever. In the past six months alone, 3 in 4 Kiwis have bought something secondhand with 83% of Kiwis saying they are proud of buying secondhand, up 15% since 2019. 

43% of respondents thought that the effects of Covid-19 were likely to cause the secondhand economy in New Zealand to grow and our data supports this. During lockdown last year we saw a substantial jump in online searches. Kiwis have been turning to the secondhand economy to find a cozier couch, order an air fryer, or upgrade their work-from-home stations to make home life more comfortable. 

Kiwis primarily buy secondhand to save on cash as secondhand items are often in excellent condition and cheaper than buying new. Along with the thrill of stumbling across a preloved gem, we also found that Kiwis who use Trade Me are 10% more likely to consider the environment when they make purchases, compared to those who don’t.

Why Kiwis love secondhand

If you need a little motivation to get selling, we found that 67% of Kiwis sell their secondhand goods to declutter their homes. Imagine a little breathing room in your wardrobe or garage - bliss! 

Unsurprisingly, 53% of Kiwis are also thinking of others when they pass on preloved goods. You may no longer listen to that Kelly Clarkson CD but before lifting the rubbish bin lid, Kiwis consider that someone else might find joy in giving that CD another listen, and that warms our hearts. 

Lastly, 39% of Kiwis sell secondhand goods as a way to do their bit for the environment, avoiding another trip to the dump and instead heading to the bank.

Wondering what to sell?

If there are an estimated 133 million secondhand items in homes across the country that are no longer used or needed - what could you sell to get that cash flowing? 

We found that on average Kiwis have 12 books, CDs & DVDs, 11 clothing items, and 6 home & living items that they could sell to a new buyer. 

So why not rummage through those overstuffed cupboards? You never know, you could make yourself $1,700!

Looking ahead

Kiwis agree that the number one place to find secondhand treasures is still Trade Me and we have loved playing a part in New Zealand’s secondhand economy over the last 22 years. 

Nothing brings us more pride than hearing about the joy our members get from finding that perfect item or cashing in on something they thought was worthless. 

We’re on a mission to provide Kiwis with a safe and trusted online marketplace where they can find what they’re looking for - whether that’s a sausage roll maker, a Toyota Hilux, or anything in between. 

As we look to the future, it’s clear New Zealand’s secondhand economy is here to stay. You can read our full Secondhand Economy Report here.

This survey was conducted by Trade Me’s UX (User Experience) team during August 2021 and collates answers from 4,403 individual New Zealand-based respondents. Respondents were externally recruited (via Dynata) to avoid any potential Trade Me membership bias and the survey was written from a platform-agnostic perspective (not ‘from Trade Me’). It was also sent out via a third party (Dynata).