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Recommerce Revolution: reusing, reselling and renting worth almost £7 billion to UK economy as consumers embrace more sustainable shopping habits

19 October 2023
  • Rising cost of living and a desire to be more sustainable are changing the nation’s shopping habits, contributing to the continued growth of the ‘Recommerce Economy’
  • Pre-loved designer goods, children’s toys and homewares are the most popular items exchanging hands
  • Gen-Z is at the forefront of the trend, with over two thirds now preferring to buy second hand than new
  • Barclaycard Payments has partnered with economic analysts Development Economics to study the impact of Recommerce consumerism in its second annual report on the topic

Recommerce1 – defined as buying, selling or renting previously owned products – continues to grow, as new figures reveal consumers are opting for second hand over new and hiring pre-loved items more often than they did 12 months ago, contributing £6.99 billion2 to the UK economy.

Barclaycard Payments, a leading payments provider, has partnered with economic impact analysts, Development Economics, to combine thousands of consumer responses with demographic data from the Office of National Statistics to calculate the value of the Recommerce Economy.

The analysis shows that the trend of shopping more sustainably has contributed £6.99 billion to the UK’s economy in the last year, with Brits spending just over £5.92 billion on second hand products and £1.07 billion on renting items to use for a set amount of time, rather than purchasing them new3.

Barclaycard Payments found that this behaviour is growing. Over four in 10 (44 per cent) buy more second hand items than they did a year ago, while a further 57 per cent say their Recommerce shopping behaviour has remained consistent, indicating this shift in the way we shop is here to stay.

The main motivator of change is the rising cost of living, with six in 10 consumers (62 per cent) saying this is causing them to think more carefully about the purchases they make – up 19 per cent year-on-year. The desire to adopt more sustainable shopping practices (43 per cent) as well as accessing items that would usually be financially out of reach (22 per cent), such as designer goods, are also key factors.

The research found that Brits make £25 a month on average from selling their unwanted processions on online marketplaces or in-person, such as at car boot or garage sales. In a sign that Recommerce is going full circle, almost a quarter (23 per cent) who resell items also use the funds to purchase second hand items for themselves in the same setting. Amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crunch, one in five (21 per cent) puts the additional income towards monthly bills and 15 per cent transfer it to a separate savings pot.

Fashion conscious Gen-Z leads the charge

Gen-Z adults (those aged 18-24) are particularly motivated by shopping second hand, viewing pre-loved items as ‘more fashionable’ (30 per cent) while also being attracted to clothes and accessories that their peers are less likely to own (31 per cent).

Younger millennials (aged 25-34) are the largest contributors to the overall Recommerce Economy, estimated to have spent £1.95 billion on second hand items in the past year and making up over a quarter of the total (28 per cent). Comparatively, those in the baby boomer generation (65-74 years) account for £602 million of spending (9 per cent).

Sector winners

By reviewing Recommerce shopping trends, Barclaycard Payments and Development Economics have calculated the five sectors contributing the most to the Recommerce Economy in last 12 months.

Top Five Sectors

Percentage of Recommerce Economy

Value to Recommerce Economy

Cars and vehicles4


£2.32 billion

Clothing and accessories


£1.22 billion

Entertainment and electronics


£1.16 billion

Home décor and houseware


£861 million

Baby care and the children’s market


£544 million

Emerging rental markets

The research also revealed emerging sectors specifically within the rental sector, as one in 10 (10 per cent) now choose to hire items instead of buying brand new more frequently than they did a year ago.

Entertainment and electronics, which includes laptops, books, headphones and musical instruments, is the largest rental growth category contributing £209 million to the Recommerce Economy in the last 12 months. On average, consumers spent £50 on renting these items over the past year.

Home and garden items make up £190 million of the overall total, while pet care – such as crates, beds and toys – contribute £183 million, with Brits paying £52 on average to rent items in this category during the last a year. The sports and fitness sector, which includes sports gear and at-home gym equipment, contributes £170 million.

Make do and mend

The research also shows that half of Brits (50 per cent) are also turning to repairing their broken possessions in response to the rising cost of living. A further one in six (16 per cent) would get something fixed even if it would cost the same to buy it again new, suggesting the decision to avoid buying brand new is not only financial, but also influenced by a desire to be more sustainable.

Those that do try to repair their items are most likely to mend home and garden furnishings (59 per cent) or clothes and accessories (58 per cent). A third would attempt to fix entertainment items and electronics (34 per cent), while a quarter would attempt to fix children’s items (24 per cent) or sports equipment (24 per cent).

Linda Weston, Managing Director at Barclaycard Payments, said: “The rising cost-of-living and a shift towards more sustainable habits are changing the way Brits shop. Our data shows we’re increasingly opting to shop second hand, or rent items for a short period of time, rather than buying outright. The trend is permeating a range of sectors, from childcare to pet care and from fashion to fitness.

“This demonstrates an exciting opportunity for the UK economy, as well as retailers, with more than a third of Brits saying they plan to embrace more sustainable shopping practices in the years ahead. In order to capitalise on this trend, businesses should think about how they adapt to provide consumers with a range of more sustainable and affordable ways to shop in the future.” 

Steve Lucas, Economic Development Manager at Development Economics, said: “UK consumers are increasingly recognising the value-for-money and sustainability benefits of renting or buying the items they need second hand. The Recommerce Economy is therefore already creating important economic influences across the UK, and these effects will continue to grow as more consumers recognise the benefits and extend their use of renting and second hand to a wider set of products.

“The market is supporting a significant number of retail sector jobs across the UK, and this proportion is set to show strong growth over the next few years.”

Harry Wallop, Retail Expert and Commentator, said: “Is it possible to shop more sustainably and save some money at the same time? It would seem the boom in the Recommerce Economy has come along at the just the right time for Britons hit by the rising cost-of-living but also keen to help the environment.

“This fascinating research sheds a light on how consumers are choosing to purchase second hand or rent items, over buying brand new. It also demonstrates the earning potential of taking part in the Recommerce Economy – with Brits making extra income in a difficult economic climate by giving unwanted items a second lease of life.”

Retailers looking to improve their payments offering can do so by partnering with a provider like Barclaycard Payments. The payments provider, which processed over 8.7 billion card payments in 2022, offers access to a wide range of digital services from in-store mobile payment solutions to secure payment experiences for customers. More information is available at: https://www.barclaycard.co.uk/business/accepting-payments/corporate-payment-solutions/industry-focus/retail-payment-solutions

– Ends –

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Polly Ewell at Polly.Ewell@barclays.com / + 44 (0) 7882 088493

1 The “Recommerce Economy”, as defined by Barclaycard Payments, refers to the actions of renting, reusing and reselling consumer goods and products rather than buying new. It takes place through physical or online distribution channels. Those processes are defined as follows:

  • Renting (hiring items instead of purchasing new)
  • Reusing (buying second hand items)
  • Reselling (selling used items rather than discarding)

2 Estimates of economic value associated with Recommerce were calculated using a combination of OnePoll consumer survey responses and annual population estimates published by the Office for National Statistics. The methodology was conducted as follows:

A.       Analysis of the OnePoll consumer survey data to find the % of the sample from each age sub-group (e.g. those aged 18-24 years) who said they had bought second hand, or rented, each type of item.

B.       For those who had bought or rented the item, the average expenditure per sub-group from the survey data was calculated.

C.       = (A) x (B) x the estimated UK population of people in that sub-group (ONS data sets from the last 12 months).

This process was then repeated for each age group and each product type and added together to get the total expenditure for all age sub-groups together (rounded to three significant figures).

3 Total consumer spending on Recommerce in the past 12 months is £6,992,000,000 rounded to the nearest million, of which £5,922,000,000 spent on second hand items + £1,070,000,000 on rental items. Economic analysis is based on consumer research conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK consumers between 5th – 11th September 2023 on behalf of Barclaycard Payments.

4 Figure only includes those who buy second-hand cars or vehicles. It does not include those who have rented a second-hand car/vehicle in the last 12 months.

Full breakdown by age demographic data as follows:

(Column numbers may not add up exactly due to the rounding nature of decimals).

Age range

£ contribution to the Recommerce economy (billions)

% of the total Recommerce economy

25 – 34 year olds



35 – 44 year olds



18 – 24 year olds



45 – 54 year olds



55 – 64 year olds






Full breakdown of sectors contributing to the Recommerce economy as follows:

(Column numbers may not add up exactly due to the rounding nature of decimals).

Product Type

Percentage of Recommerce Economy

Value to Recommerce Economy (billions)

Cars and vehicles






Entertainment and electronics



Home décor and houseware



Baby care and the children’s market



Sports and fitness equipment



Pet items



About Barclaycard Payments

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit. We processed a record 1,291 transactions per second on the 23rd of December 2022, and across 2022 processed over 8.7 billion card payments in total. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit: www.barclaycard.co.uk/business