Why the Second Hand Market Is Booming: Inflation Isn’t the Only Reason

The second hand market has a long history, dating back to the early 19th century, when people offered a special discount to sell unclaimed cargo in shipyards. Later, similar sales became popular in social centers like churches. In the 1950s, ordinary people started yard sales. By now, garage sales are the main way in the community to get rid of things people don’t use anymore.

Second-hand trading has many advantages. For the majority of people, they sell used products in order to convert items they no longer need into money, thereby saving money and helping buyers get useful things at lower prices. With the growth of e-commerce and logistics, the second hand market is gradually integrated with the Internet, and people can sell second-hand items to people in other regions instead of being confined to the community.

Inflation in 2024 gave a big boost to second-hand trading


This year, the United States has seen severe inflation and continued CPI growth. The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates in an effort to combat inflation. Rising prices have pushed up the cost of essential goods for many American families, which has hit many people without savings. CPI growth has been above 6% for several months in a row, however, in order to reduce the inflation rate, the Federal Reserve is highly likely to continue to raise interest rates in the future.

During the back-to-school season in September, many parents consider thrift shopping to get their children ready for school. Many people are hunting for discounts and always look for sellers in the second-hand market before shopping. The resale market is now growing even faster than traditional retail. According to a 2024 recommerce report by OfferUp, the largest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers in the United States, online recommerce grew by nearly 15% in 2024, double the total retail market and recording the highest growth rate in the history of the industry.

The report also noted that while mainly resaling clothing, 82% of Americans buy or sell pre-owned products, including electronics, furniture, household goods and sports equipment and accessories.

A report on the second hand market by CouponBirds, a coupon website dedicated to helping people save money, shows that the second hand market sales are expected to be 54 billion dollars in 2024, an increase of more than 50% compared to $35 billion in 2024. The US second hand market will more than double to $82 billion by 2026, 16 times faster than the retail fashion market.

Other concerns: use value, green, high-end design, charity…..

The second hand market is booming because people’s demand for resale has been amplified by the downturn. People are forced to save money by inflation and looking for efficient saving tips and personal financial management services. In addition to cooking by ownself, commuting on foot, buying less fast fashion, and maintaining electronics, people are increasingly buying fully functional pre-owned goods.

People have imperceptibly turned to the idea that frugality is not shameful. Even if a person does not follow the trend, he will not be looked down upon, but people begin to admire the ability to control the desire to consume.

OfferUp’s survey also revealed that Americans plan to increase their use of e-commerce in the coming year, especially given the current state of the U.S. economy and COVID-19. In fact, more than half of Americans engaged in e-commerce plan to increase their purchases or sales of used goods in the next year. About 40% of Americans say that selling pre-owned items has become a primary or secondary source of income, a trend that is particularly prevalent among Gen Z and Millennials. With the wide variety of goods available in the e-commerce marketplace, most shoppers are actually switching to second-hand shopping before traditional retail. 63% always or often check pre-owned purchase information before buying new items.

Many people prefer to buy clothes, handbags, furniture and children’s supplies from thrift stores. The reason is that some branded new products, especially clothes, are made of lesser quality materials with high prices. More concerned about use value, people don’t care about new products or trendy styles. Some second-hand books are new but discarded, becoming the hot items in many second hand markets. As long as the book is genuine and there are no pages missing, it can still allow us to acquire knowledge. And some books have collectible value.

If someone just needs to live in a certain place for less than two years, he does not have to buy a new washer. Because he can buy a used one with full function at a lower price to meet his short term needs. Moreover, sellers are also very willing to provide some help in second hand markets to sell their items, which is more conducive to buyers’ bargaining. It’s a win-win. What’s more, people get a sense of satisfaction from protecting the environment.


Buying pre-owned items is often an effective way to obtain out-of-print goods and luxury. In the second hand market, buyers have the opportunity to buy limited-edition products as well as discontinued high-end designs at cheaper prices. These brand-value items are often well maintained by the seller, and buyers will find them as good as new when they receive them. Some sellers even specialize in second-hand luxury transactions to generate extra income.

You can enjoy the extra pleasure of helping others and creating harmonious community relations through second hand shopping. Buying from charity-focused thrift stores does help. Many thrift stores donate some (or even all) of the money you spend on pre-used products to non-profit organizations which can benefit from tax breaks from the U.S. government.

This helps reduce waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or incinerators. A charity thrift store allows you to spend money on items you need, while helping people and contributing to the environment.

While the consumer market is in a downturn, the online second hand market has bucked the trend and has brought additional benefits to many people. Once people start to buy pre-owned items and enjoy the benefits, they are likely to develop the habit of second hand shopping, which means that thrift needs will continue to grow. E-commerce combined with the second hand business is an opportunity for individuals. Selling used books and clothes is an easy project to start and can be done alone. The online second hand market will drive the growth of personal businesses and increase wealth.