It’s not only the availability of digital platforms and consumers’ motives that have changed—selling stuff has become a financial necessity for many people.

A survey by eBay Inc. showed that almost three-quarters of respondents across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany and France started selling pre-owned goods last year as an extra income stream; 14% said that they specifically did so because they lost their jobs.

In addition, a report by eBay Kleinanzeigen in Germany said more than half of the people who recently bought secondhand goods cited cost savings as a key factor—especially for under 30-year-olds, who’ve been disproportionately affected by the crisis in Europe.

Buyer listings searching for used cars in Germany, for example, shot up by 25% this October from September 2020, eBay Kleinanzeigen said. Offers on such vehicles, meanwhile, declined by 25%. Manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG say it will take years before a shortage of semiconductors stops disrupting the production of new autos.

Deidre Popovich, an assistant professor at Texas Tech University who focuses on consumer behavior, says she expects strong demand for secondhand goods to persist even after the supply logjams subside. That’s because many consumers adopted more of a value mindset and sharpened their digital tools to shop for used items more easily. 

Wendy Hauenstein runs 1830 Vintage, a small antique furniture and art shop in Washington, along with her husband. On the store’s Instagram account, items are posted and sold within minutes.

The pandemic has reshaped how she and others in the industry keep shelves and showrooms stocked. When estate sales and auctions moved online last year for safety reasons, hundreds more people could suddenly access events that usually take place in remote locations. 

“People are coming for patio furniture that you used to be able to pick up at Home Depot that you can’t get anymore,” Hauenstein said, giving the example of an outdoor lounge set of three chairs and a love seat that she saw online which would typically sell for $150. “And now it would be like $550. Because people can’t get it.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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