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Secondhand Gift Giving Spiked this Holiday Season

Every year brings a global increase in the volume of discarded electrical and electronic devices. And, as noted by Decluttr.com, only 27% of this annual e-waste is recycled. The website exists in order to help with this problem, offering customers an easy way to sell “unwanted stuff” and to purchase refurbished tech and media.

We recently spoke with CMO Liam Howley about business during the 2020 holiday season, trends in secondhand gift giving, the impacts of COVID-19 on e-waste, and more.

Are people embarking upon the idea of secondhand gift giving enthusiastically, or reluctantly?

We’ve seen that consumers have become increasingly interested in secondhand gift-giving and receiving this holiday season, as compared to prior years. The increased interest by people who are happy to receive secondhand gifts is of particular importance because it encourages those who may have otherwise been dubious to give a secondhand present—and allows this way of gift giving to be approached with enthusiasm and creativity.

For instance, just because a gift is secondhand or refurbished doesn’t mean it’s less special or personal; in fact, it can often be even more personalized. By letting the receiver know their gift has been chosen because it is better for the environment, this helps them feel positive about the item and know that they are making a difference by being enthusiastic to receive it.

Do you have any data that speaks to trends in secondhand gifting?

The findings from our annual holiday spending survey showed that more than twice as many Americans (63%) were interested in giving secondhand items as gifts this year compared to only 31% last year. Likewise, 62% were interested in receiving secondhand items as gifts this year, compared to just 40% last year.

And we’re seeing that the younger generations are especially open to these ideas, with the environmentally-conscious Gen-Z leading the way.

How did 2020 sales at DeCluttr's online store compared with past years?

We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for our refurbished tech year-on-year, with sales up by 30% over the holiday period.

Gaming consoles in particular have experienced huge growth (255% year-on-year), which we partly attribute to Americans having been confined to home and looking for ways to keep themselves entertained. In addition, as the esports industry continues to boom, and with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S console releases in November, we also saw our refurbished PS4 and Xbox One consoles flying off the shelves for those consumers that didn't want to splurge on the newest releases. 

What have been the most popular items sold recently?

The iPhone 11 Pro is one of our top sellers and has been since November, following the iPhone 12 launch. This is due to the fact that, this year, more people have opted for a top-spec certified refurbished model instead of upgrading to a brand-new device, in order to save money—but also to make a smarter choice for the environment.

For example, you can get an iPhone 11 Pro from Decluttr for nearly $200 less than the new iPhone 12, while also helping to combat the environmental issues involved with the production of new tech such as e-waste, increased carbon emissions, and mining for precious metals.

Why do you think Gen Z appears to be most receptive to this type of secondhand market?

Our annual holiday survey found that 82% of Gen Zers were interested in giving secondhand items as gifts, and 79% were interested in receiving such gifts for the holidays. Gen Z, in particular, are a financially savvy bunch that are also extremely environmentally conscious. We found that younger generations take steps on a daily basis to help the environment: they regularly recycle (90%), compost (45%) and shop zero-plastic (25%), which helps paint a picture of how this behavior transcends into buying secondhand and refurbished. For this generation, it’s cool to be sustainable. 

What sense do you have of the secondhand and refurbished concepts retaining increased popularity when the COVID-19 crisis is over?

We believe that recommerce and the increased interest in refurbished tech will continue post-pandemic. The pandemic has allowed the time for people to stop and consider key environmental issues, as well as nature and the great outdoors, and we expect this to go back to the top of the agenda when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

One of the core issues is the staggering rate at which e-waste is increasing across the globe. In 2019, electronic waste hit record-high amounts worldwide at 53.6 million metric tons and this number is continuing to climb. With the increased awareness on this issue, consumers are beginning to really see the benefits of a circular economy where items are used, recycled, refurbished and used again.


For more information, visit: decluttr.com.

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