From returned to refurbished: Demand for sustainable homewares sees refurbished furniture sales on eBay skyrocket

Press Release

  • Searches for ‘eco furniture’ on eBay UK up 123% and ‘sustainable furniture’ up 171% YoY
  • Demand has driven +74% searches increase in eBay UK’s refurbished home category YoY
  • ClearCycle, growing Wigan-based business on eBay, that refurbishes returned and surplus stock from retailers has seen sales grow 205% YoY

New data from eBay UK reveals that more customers than ever before are actively choosing to purchase sustainable homewares, driving a significant boost for the refurbished homewares market.

With prolonged retail closures, the pandemic has given rise to more people buying home furniture online, which has naturally also led to more returns for stock that is largely good as new [1].

Yet, consumers are increasingly looking for more eco-friendly options to furnish their home, which has led to a big spike in searches for refurbished options.

Searches for ‘refurbished sofa’ were up 133% in 2020 vs the prior year, and searches for ‘refurbished bed’ were up 50%.  

Meanwhile, searches for ‘eco furniture’ and ‘sustainable furniture’ saw a huge rise in 2020 compared to 2019, up 123% and 171% respectively.

One of the businesses that has benefitted from this trend is Wigan-based eBay seller, ClearCycle, which refurbishes and sells returned or excess homewares stock from designer brands such as Cox & Cox, Nectar Sleep, Swoon and Highstreet TV. The company has seen a massive 205% year-on-year sales growth in 2020.

The business model is designed to reduce the environmental impact by diverting returned and surplus goods from landfill. The products are reworked and resold on eBay at almost 50% lower than the RRP and doubling the lifespan of the product. Since starting out in 2016, ClearCycle has grown in five years to a team of 15 employees servicing and distributing these products. Other key trading highlights include:

  • Over 1,300 refurbished sofas sold
  • Sales of refurbished appliances up 271% with over 2,000 NutriBullets resold at a 50% discount
  • Sale of refurbished furniture increased 169%, with 6,287 sofas, tables, chairs and more refurbished and resold

Daniel Hague, ClearCycle Commercial Director said: “The past year has seen more and more consumers buy home furnishings and accessories online, which has naturally led to more returns too. With showrooms temporarily closed for a good part of 2020, ClearCycle has helped retailers find value in excess and returned stock that would otherwise be diverted to landfill. This has also come at a time when consumers are more willing to shop sustainably, proving that people can still buy high quality furniture and accessories, that’s better for the environment and excellent value for the customer.”

Alex Hiatt, eBay UK Home & Garden category manager commented: “ClearCycle is such an exciting and innovative business that we are thrilled to be working with at eBay UK. It’s clear that more people than ever are choosing to invest in the spaces they live in – whether it be buying a new sofa, splashing out on furnishings, or upgrading kitchen appliances. The stamp duty holiday has also given an important boost to the sector, as renters become owners and need to furnish a brand-new home for the first time. Refurbished items are clearly front of mind for many not just because they are more sustainable, but they’re also great value. This customer interest is a trend we expect will continue - that both larger and smaller furniture retailers can continue to benefit from.”

ClearCycle, along with all other small business sellers on the platform, are able to benefit from eBay’s seller offer currently live throughout February. To support retailers facing another month of closure and uncertainty, eBay has removed all listing fees* for new businesses registering on eBay UK, and given existing sellers 50 free listings and 50% off “Final Value Fees”.



Notes to editors

Data points refer to twelve months January 2020-December 2020 vs same period in 2019

*Listing fees, or “Insertion Fees” as they are known as on eBay, are some of the biggest fees businesses have to pay and can sometimes be a barrier to getting started selling online. Currently, these fees are non-refundable, even if an item doesn't sell. eBay also normally applies a “Final Value Fee”, which is a proportion of the final sale. 

[1] A report commissioned by research consultancy Retail Economics and law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper, revealed consumers return about 17% of the value of their online purchases versus a returns rate of less than 12% for store purchases in 2020.