Americans are projected to spend $160.1 billion on secondhand items in 2021, according to Mercari and GlobalData’s inaugural ‘Reuse Report’

US households are cluttered with 23.6 billion unused items, showcasing an abundance of supply for the circular economy.

Mercari and GlobalData’s inaugural Reuse Report reveals that the secondhand market is expected to generate $160.1 billion in revenue this year. The total resale market has grown by 53.3% during the past five years, and findings suggest there is potential for even more significant growth. The report forecasts that by 2030, American consumers will spend $353.9 billion on secondhand items. This is 153.5% growth over 2020—3.2 times that of the 36.7% growth anticipated for the retail sector.

“While resale is sometimes thought of as a niche market, its size indicates it is a mainstream part of the consumer economy. In the past 12 months, 74.9% of Americans polled bought at least one secondhand item,” said John Lagerling, Mercari US CEO. “Three quarters of adults participating in the reuse ecosystem shows that buying secondhand is now almost as commonplace as going to the grocery store.”

Major insights from the 2021 Reuse Report include:

  • American consumers are expected to spend $160.1 billion on secondhand goods this year—up 14.6% from the $139.6 billion spent last year.
  • By 2030, consumers are forecast to spend $353.9 billion on secondhand. This is 153.5% growth from 2020—3.2 times that of the 36.7% growth anticipated for the retail sector.
  • Over the past 12 months, 74.9% of American adults polled bought at least one secondhand item—this equates to 196.6 million people participating in the reuse economy.
  • Saving money is the primary reason for shopping resale, mentioned by 74.6% of secondhand shoppers. However, a variety of other reasons—including finding new things, the fun of ‘treasure hunting’, sustainability, and a sense of community—are also driving interest in secondhand.
  • 62.9% of the adult population—which projects to 165 million people—have sold at least one secondhand item in the past 12 months and 51.8% of sellers resell items as a side hustle to make some cash; 12.3% say selling used items is now their primary income stream.
  • American households are currently sitting on an estimated $580 billion of products they’re no longer using (the equivalent of $4,517 per household). In volume terms this equates to 23.6 billion items (184 items per household).

“Last year, some 1.6 billion functional, saleable items were thrown into the trash, which is neither sustainable nor financially savvy”, said Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData. “However, the rise of online marketplaces and resale platforms is allowing consumers to both make money and do right by the environment as they sell unwanted products to those who will make use of them. More people are now engaging in the reuse ecosystem and are finding the experience enjoyable.”

Download the full Reuse Report here.

About the 2021 Reuse Report

The Reuse Report is Mercari and GlobalData’s first publication looking into the U.S. reuse ecosystem and the resale market.

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