HomeNewsGen Z Leads the Charge in Making Clothing the Most Purchased Second-Hand Item
Gen Z Leads the Charge in Making Clothing the Most Purchased Second-Hand Item

Gen Z Leads the Charge in Making Clothing the Most Purchased Second-Hand Item

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The global market value for second-hand selling is set to skyrocket in the coming years as sustainability becomes a core focus. has deep-dived into country-specific data to reveal that clothing is the number one category for items sold second-hand worldwide, and how Gen Z is leading the charge for this shift in consumer behaviour.

Collating country-specific data on the most-purchased second-hand goods by category in 2022, we found that out of 10 countries, clothing is the most popular category, followed by shoes, and books, movies & music. 

At the other end of the scale, all countries shared the same least-purchased second-hand category: pet products accounted for 5% or less of second-hand goods purchased by respondents in 2022.

Second-hand buying and selling surges in 2021

Across the world, second-hand selling and purchasing is on the rise. eBay, one of the largest online marketplaces, reported an increase of 7.84% in users year on year in 2021, with 57% of the company’s total revenue coming from its international market. 

Likewise, second-hand selling apps have seen phenomenal growth since the pandemic. Depop’s user base more than doubled to two million active users by October 2021 in the UK alone, while ThredUp reported a 36% increase in active buyers year on year in their full 2021 report.

Stores are quickly catching up on the growing trend, too. ThredUp reports that brands with a resale shop of their own increased from just 8 in 2020 to 30 in 2021 – a whopping 275% increase that is only set to grow.

Selling isn’t the only thing on the rise, either: of eBay’s sellers, 80% of those based in the U.S. said that as well as selling second-hand goods, they have also bought pre-owned goods in the last 12 months. This growing tendency to shop for used items correlates with ThredUp’s 2022 resale report, in which they revealed that 74% of consumers have shopped or are open to shopping secondhand apparel.

Gen Z pave the way for sustainable clothing market 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gen Z are at the forefront of this steady shift in consumer behaviours. Depop, one of the largest second-hand buying and selling apps, reported that 90% of their users are aged 26 and under. 

In a 2022 survey, the majority of respondents aged 18 – 39 agreed (41.3%) that shopping for secondhand goods was very environmentally friendly – with 36.7% of the group aged 40 and over answering likewise. In addition, a report from First Insight found that Gen Z is more willing to pay more for sustainable clothing products than any other generation, with 62% of Gen Z and Millennial survey respondents stating that they prefer to buy from sustainable brands.

Likewise, in ThredUp’s resale survey, the majority of Gen Z and Millennials (62%) say they actually now look for an item second hand before purchasing it new – while research from eBay revealed that users aged 18 – 24 have the highest percentage of second-hand items in their wardrobe. 

This shift in spending habits can even be seen in the mainstream media. The UK’s hit reality TV show, Love Island, has paired up with eBay this year, a significant move away from their previous sponsorships by fast-fashion brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Missguided. As a matter of fact, Missguided, an online fashion powerhouse seen all over the grids of social media influencers just a few years ago, has just recently entered administration.

Does second-hand shopping still have a way to go?

Despite the global value of the second-hand apparel market expected to grow by 127% in the next four years, the data shows that there is still a long way to go before the majority of shoppers look for second-hand items first.

Compiling data of second-hand purchases around the world shows a clear preference for clothing, shoes and books as the top items purchased on the many selling apps now available. However, of the countries surveyed, almost half of respondents (43 – 56%) in every country, and 73% in Russia, stated that they had not purchased anything second-hand in 2022.

While Gen Z may be diving head-first into sustainable second-hand shopping, other generations may have some way to go.

Jonathan Merry, CEO of says,

“It’s clear that there is an increasing shift in the way consumers spend their money. While this can be seen across many categories, clothing remains at the forefront of the second-hand market globally, with the younger generation really leading the way here. This trend towards second-hand buying and selling seems to be only just beginning – the future is likely to see a massive expansion of the second-hand market with the capability to put money back into the hands of the consumer, rather than funding fast-fashion giants.”

Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell
Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for Yasmin has a wealth of experience writing across a range of topics within the personal finance, student, and business niche. Yasmin joined the team with the one main mission to provide accessible financial, career and business information and advice for all.