Second Hand Economy in Italy

In 2019, the value generated by the second-hand economy in Italy reached 24 billion euros, which equals to 1.3% of the national GDP. Furthermore, in the last five years, there was a growth of 33% mainly driven by online purchases, which last year generated an overall value of 10.5 billion.

Fast purchases, accessibility, simplicity, and convenience are the main reasons why consumers go for online sales, together with more general attention to sustainability, reuse, and savings.

If young families (75%) and Gen Z (69%) are increasingly turning to the second-hand economy market, Baby Boomers are no different, with over 6 out of 10 Italians in the 55-64 age group who buy and sell second-hand items.

This is what emerges from the sixth edition of the Second Hand Economy Observatory conducted by BVA Doxa for Subito, which provides an overall picture of the second-hand economy in Italy in 2019.

After the health emergency of the last few months, it becomes fundamental to re-start by leveraging virtuous behaviors that might benefit the recovery. The second-hand economy is part of what could benefit a proper recovery, considering that it is an increasingly important form of circular economy, capable of generating real value in a sustainable way. Data confirming these results come from the sixth edition of the Second Hand Economy Observatory conducted by BVA Doxa for Subito, which provides an overall picture of the second-hand economy in Italy in 2019.

SECOND-HAND ECONOMY IN ITALY: A MARKET WORTH 24 BILLION IN 2019 – In 2019, the value generated by the sale and purchase of used products was 24 billion euros, equal to 1.3% of Italian GDP. Furthermore, in the last five years, there was a growth of 33% driven mainly by the online business, which in 2019 generated a value of 10.5 billion, 45% of the total. The majority of people who bought or sold used items in 2019 prefer the online channel (58%), especially considering its speed (77%), accessibility (44%), simplicity (38%), and convenience (34%). But what did Italians buy mostly online in 2019? On the top of the list items for Home & Personal Care (73%), followed by Sports & Hobbies (63%), Technology (57%), Vehicles (42%), Home furnishings (36%), Books and IT magazines (both 30%) and Clothes & Accessories (26%).

SUSTAINABILITY DRIVES THE SECOND-HAND ECONOMY – Buying and selling second-hand products is the fourth most widespread sustainable behavior among Italians (49%), right after recycling (95%), the purchase of LED bulbs (77%) and choosing local products (56%).

In line with what was observed in 2018, people consider increasingly more important the value behind the purchase of a second-hand item itself: it benefits not only on a personal level, but also the environment and society. The second-hand economy is, therefore, an increasingly more sustainable (44%), smart and up-to-date (40%) choice, but also a way to give value to products (37%).

The share of buyers who choose second-hand items in order to save decreased slightly in 2019 (59%), a motivation that remains relevant in the sale and purchase of used machinery. Of course, this aspect would need to be verified in light of the economic crisis of 2020. On the other hand, it grows the desire to find unique or vintage pieces (51%), as well as sensitivity towards reuse (48%).

When considering the seller’s drivers, however, the first one always remains the need to get rid of the superfluous (76%), while 42% of Italians choose to sell their products because they believe in reuse and are against waste. In addition, 37% sell used items to earn something, and 16% because they want to reinvest the earnings to buy new or used items. Prolonged non-use (73%), the desire to move to more up-to-date tools (32%), family changes (22%) and removals (18%) stand out among the reasons that favor the sale of used items. Finally, the money that is earned from the sale is mostly kept for the home economy (47%) or also used to buy other used (20%) or new (17%) items.

MOST ACTIVE GENERATIONS – Young families (35-44 years old) are the most likely to buy second-hand products (75%), with a preference for the online channel (47%). The main motivation that pushes this segment to focus on the used economy is the need to get rid of objects that are no longer used (82%), followed by the possibility of saving (67%) and earning something (46%), especially considering the possible expansion of the family or job changes. Sensitivity to environmental impact is still important, so much so that 56% of young families believe in reuse and declare themselves against waste.

Another active target in buying and selling second-hand products is Gen Z, in particular in the 18-24 range (69%): they are digital natives for whom the online channel is of course the favorite to sell (83%) and buy (72%). For them, the main purchase driver is the possibility to save (77%), but also the belief that the second hand is a smart way to do an economy that makes many objects more accessible (58%). Sellers are mainly driven by the desire to earn something (51%).

More active than the average are Baby Boomers in the age group between 55 and 64 (64%), for whom the offline is still the preferred channel for both buying and selling (47%). They are the ones most sensitive to the environmental aspect of the second hand, so much so that the first purchase driver is to reuse and fight against waste (57%), which is also among the selling drivers (48%) together with the possibility of getting rid of the superfluous (83%).

FUTURE OUTCOMES – Considering the growth experienced in the last years, 71% of interviewees believe the second-hand economy is destined to grow even more in the next five years, becoming, therefore, a green and aware choice (48%), a perfect way to save money (47%) and to make consumptions more accessible to a wider range of people (30%).

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