Burgeoning ‘pre-loved’ economy worth £6.5 billion

    • Jennifer Reeves
    • 3rd November 2022

    The UK’s pre-loved economy is now worth an estimated £6.5bn, an increase of 48% since 2020, according to research carried out by Motorway and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The report predicts that the flourishing pre-loved economy is set to grow further to £12.6bn in 2027; roughly double its value today. 

    Spending on pre-loved items places £6.5bn additional income directly into the hands of UK households. This supports a further £6bn of consumer spending, leading to a £2.4bn contribution to UK GDP.

    Two-thirds of Brits who bought pre-loved goods in the past year (66%) stated that saving money is a key reason behind their purchase of pre-loved goods, suggesting that cost-of-living concerns have prompted a shift in shoppers’ preferences. Four in 10 (42%) shoppers purchase pre-loved items to support a good cause, while a rise in environmentally conscious shoppers (36%) who believe in a more sustainable way to shop, has also contributed to the growing economy. 

    Moreover, cost pressures are the main factor behind those selling pre-loved and used goods, while greater accessibility through the prevalence of online marketplaces is also a key factor – the percentage of second-hand goods sold via online marketplaces jumped from 57% in 2017 to 74% in 2022.

    Interestingly, of those who say they’re likely to sell pre-loved goods, 16% attributed their willingness to do so to a ‘greater entrepreneurial mindset’. In fact, 68% of those polled who described themselves as entrepreneurial have sold pre-loved goods.

    The regions of London, the South East, and the South West see the highest absolute expenditure on pre-loved goods, accounting for more than a third (37%) of the total pre-loved market in the UK.

    The top pre-loved categories Brits spend their income on: 

    1. Books and stationery – 29% 
    2. Women’s clothing and accessories – 22% 
    3. Men’s clothing and accessories – 15% 
    4. Transport vehicles – 14% 
    5. Footwear – 13% 
    6. Furniture and furnishings – 13% 
    7. Physical games and toys – 10% 
    8. Glassware, tableware and household utensils – 10% 
    9. Tools and equipment for house and garden – 9% 
    10. TV, video and computers – 9% 

    Eoghan Barry, Head of Strategy at Motorway said: “With the used-vehicle market making up a large portion of the pre-loved economy, we want to ensure sellers across the UK are getting a great price for their used cars. At Motorway, we work with a network of more than 5,000 verified dealers, who compete to give sellers their best price. So, while we’re fuelling the used-car market, providing high quality, used-car stock to our dealer partners, we’re also helping sellers get a great price for their cars. Now, more so than ever before, we know how important this will be for many living in the UK.”

    Owen Good, Head of Economic Advisory at CEBR said: “Our analysis highlights the considerable contribution of the pre-loved market to the UK economy at £6.5 billion, with the total value of the market expected to double over the next five years, highlighting the traction pre-loved goods have gained amongst consumers. This is especially pertinent given the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and severely dampened spending power of consumers, with our research finding that the value offered by the pre-loved market is a key driver of its growth over the last several years.”

    To value or sell your car, and to get an estimated sale price, visit motorway.co.uk.


    Notes to Editors

    The research was carried out in October 2022 by Opinium and CEBR, based on a poll of 2,000 UK adults, and a bespoke modelling project that utilised weekly expenditure data from the Office for National Statistics’ Living Costs and Food Survey. The former provided data on the share of expenditure spent on pre-loved goods across a range of products and incorporating this data with the ONS’ weekly expenditure data enabled us to produce indicative estimates for the absolute spend on pre-loved goods for different products.

    About Motorway

    Motorway is the UK’s fastest-growing used car marketplace. We connect people selling their car directly with our network of more than 5,000 verified car dealers, matching each seller on our platform with the dealer who most wants to buy their car. We help car owners sell their cars 100% online for a great price in as little as 24 hours, with their car collected from home for free, while supporting our car dealer partners to easily acquire the best used car stock.