The trend of shopping more sustainably in the UK has made a significant contribution to the country’s economy, according to a recent analysis by Barclaycard Payments in partnership with Development Economics.

The study combined consumer responses with demographic data to calculate the value of what is known as the Recommerce Economy.

In the past year, Brits have spent more than £5.92bn ($7.17bn) on second-hand products and an additional £1.07bn on renting items for temporary use instead of buying new ones, the study revealed.

This shift towards sustainable shopping behaviour has boosted the UK economy by £6.99bn.

Growing popularity of second-hand shopping

The study found that the sustainable shopping trend is on the rise. Over 44% of respondents reported purchasing more second-hand items than they did a year ago, and an additional 57% stated that their re-commerce shopping habits have remained consistent.

This data suggests that this shift in consumer behaviour is here to stay.

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By GlobalData

The rising cost of living is the primary motivator behind this shift in consumer behaviour, with 62% of respondents stating that it has caused them to be more mindful of their purchases, marking a 19% increase from the previous year.

Other key factors motivating sustainable shopping practices include a desire to be more eco-friendly (43%) and accessing items that would typically be financially out of reach (22%), such as designer goods.

On average, Brits make £25 per month from selling their unwanted possessions on online marketplaces or at in-person events like car boot sales.

Surprisingly, 23% of those who resell items also use the proceeds to purchase second-hand items for themselves. In response to the ongoing cost-of-living challenges, 21% allocate the extra income towards monthly bills, while 15% put it into a separate savings account.

Gen-Z leads the way in sustainable shopping

Among the age groups, Gen-Z adults (aged 18-24) are particularly enthusiastic about shopping for second-hand items, with 30% viewing them as ‘more fashionable.’

They are also attracted to the idea of owning clothes and accessories that their peers are less likely to have (31%).

Younger millennials (aged 25-34) are the largest contributors to the overall re-commerce economy, accounting for an estimated £1.95bn in spending on second-hand items in the past year and making up over a quarter of the total (28%).

In contrast, those in the baby boomer generation (65-74 years) contributed £602m, or 9% of the spending.

By analysing re-commerce shopping trends, Barclaycard Payments and Development Economics have identified the top five sectors contributing the most to the re-commerce economy in the last 12 months.