Mar 31, 2023
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Most UK consumers now have pre-owned items, clothing most popular category

Mar 31, 2023

Around 25% of people in the UK have no pre-owned items in their wardrobes, according to a new British Heart Foundation (BHF) study, although while that might be seen as bad news from one angle, it also means that 75% are already switched on to pre-owned.

Photo: Pexels

The BHF commissioned Censuswide to survey over 4,600 people and found that clothes are the UK's favourite item to buy secondhand.

Gen Z (16-26 year-olds) are leading the way with 23% of respondents from that age range stating that between 50% and 74% of items in their wardrobes are pre-owned, compared to only 10% of Gen X (43-58 year-olds) who said the same.

Importantly too, 42% of respondents said the proportion of pre-owned in their wardrobes has increased over the last few years and that their main motivation for buying secondhand was to find cheaper alternatives due to the rising cost of living.

That’s interesting given that pre-owned is also seen as a more sustainable way to shop, rather than just a way to save money. But consumers aren’t ignoring sustainability altogether. Some 32% said donating items is one of the top three actions they’d take to help protect the planet, as well as recycling more (46%) and reducing food waste by meal planning (30%). 

However, 19% of people said not knowing what they can donate or what condition the items need to be in, is the biggest barrier for donating pre-owned items.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, BHF Retail Director, said: “There’s been a real shift in the public’s perception around shopping and donating pre-loved and our survey shows we need to continue championing the joys of secondhand shopping to see the entire nation favouring it in their wardrobes and around their homes.”

The charity is running a campaign at the moment to encourage people to shop and donate pre-owned, called Reuse Revolution. And it said that in a year, it saves 13,000 pre-owned clothes from going to waste in the UK. Since launching its Depop account, the BHF has also become one of the top sellers on the site.

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