Sustainable Commerce

New eBay Study Finds Gen Z is Driving the Demand for Recommerce

eBay News Team

A new eBay survey underscores the economic and environmental advantages of recommerce and finds that younger generations, particularly Generation Z, are increasingly motivated to sell and buy secondhand goods.

New younger generations of sellers and buyers are embracing recommerce. Led by Gen Z, they are increasing demand for pre-loved items faster than new, and it’s not just a pandemic trend. Their love for secondhand goods is creating more economic opportunities while also contributing to a greener future.

Released today, eBay’s second annual Recommerce Report found that younger sellers are emerging as a major economic force in the secondhand resale market. According to our latest survey, 80% of Gen Z bought secondhand goods, while nearly 1-in-3 began selling them in the last year. Gen Z also makes up the largest generational category of new sellers at 32%, followed by 16% of Millennials who began selling secondhand goods in the past year.

The report also found that 82% of respondents have been consistently selling secondhand items for over two years. Additionally, 12% of survey respondents started selling pre-owned items in the past year, and in some countries, that figure is much higher – in Canada, it’s 22%; in Italy, 21%; and in the U.S., 17%.

“Empowering people and creating economic opportunity for all is at the heart of everything we do at eBay – and the ripple effect of our work creates waves of change,” said eBay CEO Jamie Iannone. “Our marketplace allows people to rediscover the value of secondhand items with the added bonus of contributing to a more prosperous, more sustainable future for everyone.”

Feel Good Purchases

Today, consumers from around the world are more carefully considering the implications of what they buy, where they buy and who they buy from.

The latest report underscores that economic opportunity is the key driver for recommerce, with 52% of female respondents globally stating that making extra cash is a primary reason they sell pre-owned goods. In the U.S., that number is even higher at 71%. For Gen Z, that figure is 63%, up from 46% last year. Approximately 20% of survey respondents said the circular economy (i.e., keeping products and materials in use for a longer period of time) was their top reason for purchasing pre-owned. That number is even higher in the U.S. (26%) and Canada (31%), where reselling has become a major trend, especially for sneakers, watches and collectibles.

What’s more, recommerce is contributing to a healthier planet and our research shows that sustainability is an increasing motivation to participate. About 27% of eBay’s seller survey respondents around the world named sustainability as a reason they participate in recommerce, as do 34% of buyers, who want to keep secondhand goods out of landfills and in the circular economy for longer.

A Secondhand Market that Scales

At a marketplace as large and as comprehensive as eBay’s, access to secondhand items  scales beyond vintage clothing and tech gadgets.

For the first time collectible items have made their way onto the survey. Collectibles (which includes trading cards, toys, art, sports memorabilia, coins, and bullion) continues to be the one of the top categories at eBay, and the trading cards category is growing at a notable pace, with U.S. trading cards GMV hitting $2 billion in transactions in the first half of 2021 — equal to all of 2020.

This year’s report shows that apparel sales also increased, with 42% of respondents saying they sell pre-owned apparel, up from 37% last year. Books (28%), toys (28%) and tech (42%) remain very popular categories in the recommerce space as well. 

Read eBay’s full Recommerce Report to learn more about how the secondhand market is creating economic opportunities for all, while also contributing to a healthier planet.

Additional Key Findings

  • In the U.S. 63% of people now selling pre-owned goods on eBay are finding them around their house.

  • Approximately 72% of responding sellers believe that buying pre-owned has become more common. Moreover, 64% believe that selling secondhand products has become easier in the past year, and 48% sharing they now sell more pre-owned goods than in the last several years.

Survey Methodology

Between Oct. 7 and Oct. 19 of 2021, we surveyed 4,469 of eBay’s consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sellers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Australia around their habits of both buying and selling secondhand goods. In the U.S. and Canada, C2C sellers include those with less than $10,000 gross merchandise value (GMV) or fewer than 25 transactions in a year. In the U.K., Germany and France, this includes any seller who identifies themself as C2C.