Cash in the attic: 61% of online sellers are selling more products online due to financial concerns

March 17, 2023

As the nation gets set to embark on its annual spring clean, cash-strapped Brits will be looking to maximise their cleanout by selling unwanted goods to raise much-welcomed additional income. According to new research from Mintel, 61% of online sellers say that financial concerns have caused them to sell more products online in the past year, rising to 73% of those who currently describe their financial situation as tight* and four in five (79%) who say they are struggling/in trouble financially**.

Sales through marketplaces and peer-to-peer sites (such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy) reached an estimated £27.9 billion in 2022, with the market experiencing a rapid 80% growth between 2018 and 2022. Consumer demand for marketplaces and peer-to-peer platforms experienced a -6% decline in sales between 2021-22, from £29.6 billion to an estimated £27.9 billion. However, a return to the importance of value for money—which drove much of the growth gained between 2020-21—will help sustain future growth.

Overall, more than two in five (44%) of Brits have sold products online in the past year, with an impressive 60% of these online sellers considering themselves to be experienced online retailers.

Meanwhile, just over a quarter (27%) of online shoppers have purchased from an online seller in the last year. The cost of living crisis is driving purchasing too, as 45% of these shoppers say financial concerns have caused them to shop at online marketplaces more in the last 12 months. Over half (58%) of these consumers say they shopped with the site they used most recently to save money.

Nick Carroll, Category Director of Retail Insights at Mintel, said:

“With more consumers looking to earn additional cash and save money, there is an opportunity for online peer-to-peer selling platforms to gain users on both sides—both buying and selling. This will be particularly important for newer and emerging platforms as they should view the squeeze on incomes as a way to lay strong foundations for longer-term growth, in the same way that the past recession served to boost ‘older’ platforms like eBay, Gumtree and Amazon Marketplace.

“While online marketplaces and peer-to-peer sites have a significant opportunity to increase their sales and customer numbers in the short term due to the macroeconomic backdrop, their success will depend on two core factors: uniqueness and sustainability.

“The broader range of products available via marketplaces has driven demand, while the shift towards a less conformist and personal style—in fashion and all lifestyle areas—has boosted interest in platforms like Etsy, Not On The High Street and Depop. Additionally, the demand for consumption habits that support the circular economy has increased interest in second-hand goods, further boosted by the knock-on financial benefits of buying in this way. Indeed, eight in 10 online marketplace/peer-to-peer shoppers say buying products from marketplaces allows them to find items to best fit their style, while nearly nine in 10 say buying second-hand is a good way to reduce environmental impact.”

Quality and counterfeit concerns are barriers to attracting new shoppers

Overall, 77% of online shoppers have some concerns about shopping via an online marketplace. Central to these concerns is the quality of the product. Over a third of online shoppers say they are concerned that the overall quality will be low (36%), that it will be counterfeit/fake (35%) or poorly described (34%).

Aligned with this are consumers’ fears that the product will not arrive at all (29%) and that customer service will be poor (23%).

“One of the key weaknesses of online marketplaces is the inability to see and interact with a product ahead of buying and, while many retailers have looked to augmented reality (AR) to support digital product interaction, as well as sizing tools and even try-before-you-buy schemes –these are either very limited within the marketplace sector or they do not cover marketplace-sold products.” Nick concludes.

*making ends meet, but only just.
**In danger of falling behind/missed house bills and repayments

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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