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Report: B.C.’s second-hand economy rings up $1 billion in sales annually

Affordability is main driver for most British Columbians, especially millennials

November 3, 2016, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – Eighty-three per cent of British Columbians say they buy second-hand goods, spending an estimated $1.05 billion annually, according to a new report by Vancity credit union.

The report, Thrift Score: An examination of the driving forces behind B.C.’s second-hand economy, included a poll of more than 900 British Columbians and looked at why people buy, sell and donate used goods. When all types of exchanges are considered – including donations – the percentage of British Columbians actively engaged in the second-hand economy jumps to 97 per cent.

Poll results indicate affordability is the main driver for 65 per cent of British Columbian’s who buy used goods, citing either saving money (38 per cent) or accessing high-quality goods at a lower cost (27 per cent) as their motivation. Furthermore, nearly 45 per cent of those polled who sell used goods, say they use the money to pay their bills, rent or mortgage.

More than half (52 per cent) of millennials who participate in the second-hand economy say they are experiencing financial hardship, including significant worry about money and getting or keeping a job.

The report found:

  • 97 per cent of British Columbians are actively participating in the second-hand economy: 83 per cent have bought, 72 per cent have sold and 95 per cent have donated or given away used goods.
  • Millennials aged 18-34 are least likely to donate or give away used goods often (29 per cent), compared to those aged 35-54 (52 per cent) or aged 55+ (59 per cent).
  • All age groups preferred purchasing used goods at second-hand or consignment stores; however, millennials are the most likely to prefer purchasing used goods online (25 per cent); meanwhile older respondents (55+) are more likely to prefer garage or yard sales (18.5 per cent):
  • Overall, British Columbians surveyed said helping others (37 per cent) was the main reason for donating or giving items away, followed by reducing clutter (22 per cent) and finding a good home for valued goods (16 per cent).

The report also examined trends in purchase habits and attitudes, including shifting notions of value to the use and lifetime of a product, a growing emphasis on access over ownership of goods, and connecting reuse with broader activities of reducing, repairing and remanufacturing in a circular economy and sustainable society.


“The greenest product you can buy is one that already exists. The second-hand economy isn’t just about saving money, but shifting our purchases to quality over quantity. This has a ripple effect on every aspect of our economy, from manufacturing to the repair industry and recycling of goods.”” William Azaroff, Vancity’s vice-president of community investment

Additional information


The poll of 917 British Columbians was commissioned by Vancity and conducted by Qriously from October 21-25, 2016. All data is weighted to be representative of B.C. residents on gender and age, with a margin of error of 3.16% 19 times out of 20.

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About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 519,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $19.8 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


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