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Secondhand Trends 2021

Respondents indicated that their behaviour is different when purchasing second-hand items than for new goods. Again, their answers confirmed the picture painted in the previous year.

  • Survey results show that again in 2021, the most frequently purchased items were from the categories hobby and leisure items and furniture and furnishings. A third of respondents said that they regularly or occasionally buy items from these categories.
  • Just over a quarter occasionally or regularly buy or bid on second-hand items from the categories electronic goods and telecommunications and visual and audio media – for example, DVDs, CDs or records.
  • Shoes, however, are not a particularly popular item: only one in seven said that they occasionally or regularly purchase second-hand shoes online. More than two thirds of respondents said that this is out of the question entirely and they never buy used shoes.

Who buys second-hand items online?

An analysis of online second-hand shopping habits revealed that generally very few differences exist between social classes. The study results did not indicate that any groups were more inclined to make second-hand purchases online due to budget restrictions.

  • Again in 2021, those with a higher income were more likely to occasionally buy second-hand items online, and those with a low or mid-level of income occasionally to regularly buy second-hand items online. The studies in 2020 and 2021 show no differences in this regard.
  • In 2021, people in Switzerland with a low level of income purchased second-hand items primarily from the following categories: handbags, backpacks and suitcases, visual and audio media, electronic goods and telecommunications, and furniture and other furnishings.
  • Second-hand clothing was again bought primarily by those with lower incomes. The number of children in a household was also a decisive factor: as a rule of thumb, the more children in a household, the more likely people are to buy second-hand clothing online. In the other product categories, no difference in buying behaviour was seen in terms of the number of children.
  • People with a mid-level of income, on the other hand, are more likely to buy hobby and leisure items.
  • The vast majority (77%) said they spend up to CHF 50 per month on online shopping orders, with another 16% indicating that they spend between CHF 50 and CHF 100. Only 7% of respondents spend more than CHF 100 online shopping per month. These expenditure levels have not changed compared with the study in 2020.

What is associated with buying second-hand items online?

  • The geographical distribution is striking: the number of respondents from eastern Switzerland, Zurich and the Lake Geneva region who stated that they occasionally or regularly buy second-hand items online was higher than in other regions.
  • Shopping for second-hand items online is primarily associated with ‘freedom’, ‘happiness’ and ‘curiosity’.
  • It is rarely associated with ‘perfection’ or ‘control’. The most common associations are ‘happiness’ and ‘’spontaneity.
  • Respondents indicated that they associate buying second-hand items online least strongly with ‘expensive’ and ‘hygienic’, but particularly strongly with ‘affordable’, ‘budget friendly’ and ‘good value for money’.
  • Women are more likely to consider second-hand purchases ‘necessary’ than men. They are also more likely to associate second-hand shopping with ‘vintage’ than men, but are less likely to consider it ‘hygienic’.
  • Second-hand shopping is considered significantly more strongly as ‘necessary’ in Mittelland and the Lake Geneva region. In eastern Switzerland, second-hand shopping is associated significantly less with ‘lifestyle’, and in Zurich less strongly with ‘uniqueness’.
  • It is also striking that the higher the level of education, the stronger the associations with descriptors such as ‘sustainable’, ‘trendy’, ‘high quality’ and ‘lifestyle’.

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