Australia’s pre-loved shopping economy is thriving, with PayPal’s newly released ‘Garage Sale Trail’ research report confirming that two in five (43%) Australians have bought something second-hand within the past year, and more than a third (35%) have sold something pre-loved over the same period.

Each year for the past three years, PayPal has partnered with Garage Sale Trail – Australia’s festival of pre-loved stuff, which is dedicated to helping Aussies extend the life of their stuff and find the ultimate gems. Over the next two weeks, over 10,000 garage sales are happening across the nation part of Garage Sale Trail. Australians are embracing second-hand shopping in a big way.

Why the boom?

The Garage Sale Trail is part of a larger pre-loved, vintage, second-hand explosion happening around the globe today that’s making waves for several reasons. Our PayPal research found two major reasons are the rising cost of living, and growing focus on sustainability. Simultaneously, we found the shift towards a cashless society continues a pace, as Australians cite the need for convenient, digital payment methods for second-hand shopping.

Aussies are using second-hand as a means of combatting the cost-of-living crisis

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top reason people buy second hand is to save money (63%). A quarter (27%) of respondents said second-hand purchases have helped them face financial pressures, and roughly the same proportion (24%) are currently buying more second-hand goods during this time due to the rising cost-of-living.

A third (31%) said they would purchase even more second-hand goods if the economic conditions continued to worsen. The benefits of second-hand means that Australians can access designer or unique items at a more affordable price. For example, a third (35%) of respondents said secondhand gives them access to higher quality at a lower price, and a quarter (27%) said it provides them with greater diversity, including unusual or unique items.

Australians are also exploring selling items to help them manage financial pressures, with about half (49%) saying they have unused items at home they could sell for extra cash. Australians estimate they could earn an average of $1,681 just from selling unwanted goods around the house.

Australians feel better about buying second-hand, with the environment in mind

Despite Australians rating financial pressures as the top reason to engage with second-hand, sustainability was close behind, with two-in-five (37%) of respondents purchasing second-hand because it’s better for the environment. Australians are increasingly aware of the positive impact second-hand shopping can have on reducing waste and greenhouse gases, and businesses should take note. Two-in-five (43%) also said they buy second-hand to give products a second life.

Fewer Australians use cash for second-hand purchases

While some might have predicted enduring resistance to the cashless revolution within the circular economy, research shows Australians are barely paying with cash at all anymore, including for second-hand items. Three-in-five (57%) say they’re virtually cashless, using hard currency for just 10% of all transactions, and 14% say they’ve stopped using cash altogether.

For garage sales specifically, about 1-in-5 (16%) say they’d be more likely to make a purchase if cashless payments were available, and this rises to more than a quarter (26%) of Gen Z. This suggests sellers must offer cashless payments to maximise sales. An effective way to do this is with PayPal QR Codes, as two-in-five (40%) say QR codes are easy to use, and more than a quarter (26%) say they feel safer buying second-hand if PayPal is a payment option.

Rob Bates is consumer insights expert at PayPal Australia.