Second-hand sales skyrocket in 2020 as fashionistas shift to thrift

Press Release

eBay reveals the equivalent weight of 900 double decker buses has been saved from landfill, thanks to purchases of pre-loved items this year.

In a move to champion greater sustainability, and to celebrate its support of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, eBay has released new data which delves into the nation’s attitudes towards second-hand shopping.

Over the past few years, eBay has witnessed an increase in the purchase of pre-loved items, but the outbreak of COVID has catalysed this shift further, with 30% more second-hand sales in June 2020, compared to March. eBay’s data shows that despite physical shops reopening in the UK on June 15th, that month witnessed the most second-hand sales of 2020 so far - an impressive 1,404% more preloved sales than at the same time in 2018.

The data also revealed that:

  • As lockdown gave us more time to reflect on our shopping habits, 12 million people in the UK have purchased a pre-loved item in 2020 so far
  • There has been a 404% YoY increase in pre-loved sales since 2018, and as many as 3 second-hand purchases every second, across all categories, this year alone
  • As many pre-loved items as there are people in the UK (66m), went to a new home in 2020 and extended their lifecycle

Oxfam’s Second Hand September encourages Britons to pledge to shop only second-hand for 30 days or more to stop clothes from going to landfill.

Emma Grant, Head of Preloved at eBay said: “It seems that lockdown ultimately sped up the transition to a greater sustainability-conscious society, as eBay witnessed more pre-loved listings and sales post-lockdown, compared to before. With people’s wallets becoming tighter, an uneasiness about going out shopping, and after some time away from the materialism of day-to-day normality, the nation was more in tune than ever with charities, small businesses and caring for the planet.

Celebrating Second Hand September with Oxfam is a great opportunity to keep the green recovery front of mind and ensure that we all play our part to reduce fast fashion where possible”.

The data also revealed some key themes that demonstrate the changing way we live in a post-COVID world:

Leading the charge

  • Brits have topped the global leaderboard, scoring 117,55% more second-hand sales in 2020 than our friends in the US.
  • Gen Z are the real trailblazers, with second-hand purchases for some of their favourite brands, including Champion and Fila, higher than last year by 55% and 41%, respectively.

Lockdown re-fashioned things up top

When it comes to fashion in 2020, we have left behind our usual office attire and switched out a more formal look, for a new Zoom outfit - the ‘shirt and sweat’.

  • eBay has witnessed almost double the number of purchases for second-hand tops, than bottoms, and because there is no escaping a bad hair day on Zoom, the nation bought 38% more pre-loved hats during lockdown (April-June 2020), than at the same time in 2019.
  • We also eagerly ditched the classic ‘suit and tie’, making 43% fewer purchases of pre-loved suits, and 34% of preloved ties than last year.

Quality over quantity

With two second-hand fashion items sold every three seconds between January and July this year, when it comes to our wardrobes, the sustainable overhaul is well underway.

  • Turning against fast fashion, the nation has become dramatically more willing to invest in quality pieces and in 2020, there have been 195,691% more purchases for pre-loved high-end designer fashion items than two years ago
  • In particular, brands known for their sustainable offerings, e.g. Stella McCartney and H&M, have both witnessed significantly more sales of their products on eBay this year

Hasty homeware

With more time on our hands during lockdown to reconsider how we shop, our green concerns have extended beyond simply the clothes we wear, the nation is now also moving away from hasty homeware.

  • Fuelling our Netflix addictions even once lockdown was lifted (June-July), sales of pre-loved chairs, sofas and TVs all shot up by 41%, 30% and 17% respectively, in comparison to earlier this year (February-March). 
  • In the bedroom, Brits now sleep easier knowing that they have fulfilled their sustainable dreams, with purchases for pre-loved beds up by 41% and curtains closing in at 32% higher, post-lockdown than they were prior.

Extra care - independent retailers

Sustainable shoppers are concerned about more than just their own wallets and the environment, they care about other people too.

  • This year there have been 28% more second-hand purchases from small and medium businesses on eBay, than from larger retailers.
  • And lockdown fuelled the shift, as we shopped 36% more from small businesses in June-July, than February-March.

A few vintage small businesses to support on eBay that are currently donating 10% of proceeds to Oxfam in support of Second Hand September:

Yellow Jelly Vintage


The Northern Trend

Lux Vintage

Extra care - charities

  • We have also become more charitable as a nation and by June of this year, eBay’s global community had raised a huge £42 million, by donating a proportion of their second-hand sales to charity.

Continuing its charitable efforts in 2020, eBay is supporting Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign by hosting a joint auction of curated vintage and Oxfam pieces, which will launch on site on September 10. Those selling their own second-hand items on eBay are encouraged to donate a percentage of their proceeds to support Oxfam's work around the world; the equivalent percentage in fees will be waived by eBay for Charity, or donate at checkout where Oxfam will be hosted all September.

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Notes to Editor

eBay sales and listings data Jan 2018 - August 2020

Tips from stylist Lucy-Tempest Walker to find your perfect second-hand steal:

  1. Head to the Vintage Hub- as eBay sells new and pre-loved goods, if it’s vintage fashion you’re after make this your first port of call. Sellers are often really knowledgeable and whether its seventies platforms or an eighties quilted jacket - you can expect the real deal.
  2. Set alerts - this way eBay will notify you whenever something is listed that matches what you’re looking for, saving time trawling and ensuring you don’t miss out. From your favourite designers to a specific handbag or style of shoe - let the fashion come to you.
  3. Be specific in your searches - Filter searches using price, new or used, material, colour, size etc. The sheer volume of items on offer can feel overwhelming but this helps ensure you’re only shown items that fit the brief.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make an offer -You’ll sometimes see an option to ‘make an offer’ on items which have a ‘buy it now’ option which I often do, successfully securing items at lower prices. It may feel cheeky but it’s not- sometimes a seller is happy to sell something at a lower price if it means a quick sale
  5. Ask questions - eBay is a friendly community and sellers are really happy to answer questions and provide more info and pictures on request, which can be reassuring, especially when considering an expensive purchase
  6. Pay attention to feedback - Good feedback is king on eBay and it's a great way of ensuring buyers and sellers play their part well (pay quickly, pack properly, post promptly),
  7. Watch away - Select ‘watch this item’ on anything you’re remotely interested in, as this saves your items in a neat list and enables you to easily track your bids
  8. eBay will look after you! - so long as you use PayPal, as a buyer you’re protected under eBay’s Money Back Guarantee policy. If for example, your item doesn't arrive or isn't as described, eBay will refund you. I find this takes the fear factor out of buying pre-loved designer style homeware.

Tips for customers to sell for Oxfam:

This Second Hand September, you can support Oxfam every time you sell or buy on eBay, donating to Oxfam at checkout or giving a percentage of sales to the charity when you clear out your wardrobe; eBay for Charity will waive the equivalent percentage in selling fees. There are three easy steps to start selling for Oxfam on eBay for Charity:

  1. When you create your listing on eBay, look for our charity ribbon and check the box that says “Donate a portion to charity”
  2. Select ‘Oxfam’ and the percentage you want to donate
  3. List the item and start raising money for a cause you care about!

Fee Gilfeather, Oxfam's Sustainability Expert, said: “One of the few positives to come out of this pandemic is the opportunity to break old habits and build a fairer and more sustainable future.

For this year’s Second Hand September campaign, we’re asking people to shop second hand for the month or more.

eBay’s research shows that people are shopping second hand online more than ever, which is great for the environment. We hope that even more people will choose second hand this month and take the opportunity to support our work fighting poverty and helping communities to protect themselves from coronavirus”.


Top 10 High Street Brands & Average Selling Price of pre-loved items:

1.     Nike - £32

2.     Ralph Lauren - £17

3.     Hugo Boss - £24

4.     H&M - £7

5.     Calvin Klein - £17

6.     Tommy Hilfiger - £18

7.     Puma - £20

8.     Laura Ashley - £28

9.     North Face - £35

10.   Levis - £20


Top 10 Luxury Brands & Average Selling Price of pre-loved items:

1.     Gucci - £105

2.     Burberry - £50

3.     Vivienne Westwood - £46

4.     Chanel - £171

5.     Prada - £65

6.     Louis Vuitton - £233

7.     Dolce & Gabbana - £40

8.     Moncler - £99

9.     Christian Dior - £76

10.   Balenciaga - £123

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Jessica Brand