The market for previously used products brought in as much as $36 billion to Canada's economy last year, as the average adult Canadian granted new life to 77 unwanted products, according to a new survey Tuesday.
According to the second annual Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index, Canadians saved an average of about $480 last year by buying something second-hand, either from an online website, a bricks and mortar store, or somewhere else. People selling items fared even better, with the average Canadian who sold something earning an average of $883.
The survey was produced collaboratively by Kijiji and researchers from the University of Victoria and Montreal's Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable. It is based on a representative online sample of 5,990 Canadian adults.
"Nearly 85 per cent of Canadians have participated in some form of second-hand transactions … in the last year," Kijiji's strategic marketing director Marc-André Hade said in a release.
1.8 billion items changed hands
The survey found that Canadians bought and sold more than 1.8 billion second-hand items last year, an increase of 29 million items from 2014's level. That's an average of 77 items for each Canadian adult.
The popularity of the second-hand market is greater in Western Canada than it is in the East of the country, the survey said.
People in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were the most likely to have used second-hand selling, at 87 per cent, followed by those in Alberta (82 per cent), British Columbia (80 per cent) and Ontario (79 per cent).
Second-hand sales were somewhat less prevalent in eastern regions, such as Quebec, at 67 per cent, and the Atlantic provinces, where just 60 per cent had done so in the past year.
Some items are more likely to be given a second chance than others. The vast majority of items sold fall into one of the following five ranked categories:
- Clothing, shoes and fashion accessories.
- Entertainment products.
- Baby clothing and accessories.
- Games, toys and video games.
- Indoor/outdoor household and decoration items.
By adding the first and third categories together, sales of things that people wear accounted for 40 per cent of transactions across the country last year, the survey's authors said.
Not all in the grey market
But while most second-hand items don't cause any direct benefit for governments because they likely exist outside taxation, it's not fair to assume there's no benefit for the official economy, the survey said.
"While half of those that acquired second-hand goods thought about purchasing a new product, only one-third would
have if they not been able to find it used," the report said. "For the other two-thirds of buyers of used goods, the acquisition of second-hand goods represents economic activity that would otherwise have not occurred."
Most of that money ends up in the legitimate economy, the report found.
"Some sellers of second-hand goods are using the income generated from sales of second-hand goods
to purchase new goods that otherwise would not be purchased," the report said, adding that 15 per cent of all second-hand sales happen in a bricks and mortar store that sells used goods, which means that sale would be taxed and make money for the government.
The Kijiji-sponsored report does make, however, some heady claims about that website's prevalence in the Canadian market. Sales on Kijii made up 12.6 per cent of all sales of used goods in Canada last year, the report claims. That contrasts with just 2.5 on Craigslist, Kijiji's report says.