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Second-hand economy in Canada worth $30 billion annually

Staff writer |
Canadians spend close to $30 billion each year on used cars, hockey equipment and baby furniture, among other items, according to the Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index.

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The study, undertaken for Kijiji on its 10th anniversary in Canada by researchers from the University of Toronto and Montreal's Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable, also reveals that second-hand goods spending by Canadians contributes close to $34 billion to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in Canada by diverting dollars away from items that would otherwise be imported.

Other benefits of the second-hand economy include job creation and a reduction in environmentally harmful waste, the study shows.

Annual sales of second-hand durable and semi-durable goods in Canada are now estimated to be $30 billion, or about 15 per cent of the value of new goods purchased.

More than 80 per cent of the durable and semi-durable goods bought by Canadian consumers are imported rather than made in Canada. Spending in the second-hand goods market contributes approximately $34 billion to Canada's GDP that would otherwise flow out of the country. This means that extending the useful life of these goods is actually good for the local economy.

On average, each Canadian grants a second life to 76 products each year, across 22 product categories through buying, selling, trading and donating via peer-to-peer channels such as online classifieds, donations, local thrift shops and more.

The average family of four in Canada saves approximately $1,150 per year by buying second-hand goods.

Each $1 billion of second-hand sales contributes about $340 million to government revenue, through the taxation of the income increases related to the diversion of spending away from imported durable and semi-durable goods.

At the current rate of spending, with the total contribution to GDP, the second-hand market can be said to support approximately 300,000 jobs in the Canadian economy.

Beyond dollars saved and earned, the report highlights the environmental virtues of extending the life of products through the second-hand economy, in terms of reducing harmful impacts associated with manufacturing and distributing new things, and discarding old items well before their time.

According to Statistics Canada, every year, Canadian consumers spend close to $200 billion on new durable and semi-durable consumer goods, with the cost of depreciation pegged at $100 billion, a signal that one of the study's authors says points to goods being discarded prematurely.

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