Consumers favouring secondhand goods amid cost of living crisis, survey finds

PayPal says clothes, books and furniture are the most popular categories of preowned items

Elevated living costs and concerns about sustainability are driving a boom in Ireland’s secondhand economy, according to PayPal, with younger consumers particularly enthusiastic about buying and selling preowned products.

A survey by the payments platform found that almost one in eight people of those selling secondhand goods such as books, clothes and furniture are doing it to upcycle and supplement their income.

About half of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed by Censuswide said they regularly resell their goods, earning an average of €598 over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, more than three quarters of respondents said they purchase preowned goods, with the average consumer buying as much as 20 items each year.


Clothes, books and furniture were the three most popular categories of secondhand goods.

The sharp rise in the cost of living over the past year is one of the main factors driving the boom, according to PayPal.

Saving money was the top reason cited by secondhand shoppers for their preference for resold items. Some 59 per cent of respondents said they buy and sell preowned items to cut down on their expenses while 41 per cent said they do so to find bargains.

One third, meanwhile, said they shop in charity and thrift shops for sustainability reasons.

Gen Z shoppers are the most active in the secondhand economy, according to the figures, averaging 26 transactions per year, followed by millennials with an average of 21 transactions.

The most popular channels for buying and selling preowned goods were charity/thrift shops, online and mobile marketplaces, and social media.

“With prices soaring, it’s no surprise we’re seeing a boom in the secondhand economy,” said Maeve Dorman, senior vice-president at PayPal Ireland.

Mainstream brands, particularly in the fashion retail sector, are attempting to cash in on the boom in demand for secondhand items.

In Dublin, Penneys opened its curated Wornwell Vintage Clothing concession at its flagship Mary Street outlet in April, where shoppers can buy branded and non-branded secondhand items.

The global fashion retail resale market is expected to grow by 127 per cent by 2026, outstripping the growth of the broader fashion industry, according to a recent report from retail analytics firm GlobalData.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times