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Kijiji says that second-hand economy saves money while generating income for Canadians

Selling or bartering off items you don't need to make money for something you do want is both sensible and worthwhile. The popularity of services like Craigslist, Kijiji as well as localized trading and selling apps like Bunz and Letgo are a testament to this second-hand economy.

Kijiji's third annual Second-Hand Economy (SHE) Index found 30.4 million more second-hand goods traded hands last year than the year before, as the Second-Hand Economy continues to represent a consistent and sizeable part of the country’s overall economic activity.

Last year, 1.9 billion previously used items were bought, sold, swapped or donated by Canadians, according to new data released today by Kijiji, Canada’s largest online classifieds site.

Canadians spent a total of $29 billion buying second-hand goods in 2016, up $1 billion from the previous year. To put that into perspective, the Second-Hand Economy is larger than Canada’s entire agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing sectors combined (a total of $28.3 billion), and almost equal to the GDP of Newfoundland & Labrador ($30.1 billion, according to latest data available).

“The Second-Hand Economy goes hand in hand with the sharing economy, as Canadians find bargains and monetize their existing assets,” said Kijiji General Manager Matt McKenzie. “Canadians earned an average of $1,037 from second-hand sales, while buyers of second-hand goods saved an average of $843 last year. Most respondents to the survey say they used that money for day-to-day expenses like gas, groceries and rent payments.”

“Just like those who are renting out a spare room or an extra parking space, Canadians are using the Second-Hand Economy to generate extra money from stuff they already have. And in the spirit of helping others as well as protecting the environment, our data shows it’s important to people to try and find new homes for still-useful things,” McKenzie said.

Kijiji is Canada’s largest online classifieds site, and the most popular commercial channel for acquiring or divesting goods through the Second-Hand Economy (versus buying from/selling to family and friends). The Index, sponsored by Kijiji and conducted by the Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable (Observatory of Responsible Consumption – OCR), analyzes the annual buying, selling and donating habits of more than 5,752 Canadians in the second hand economy.

2017 Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index Highlights

  • The Second-Hand Economy grew by $1 billion between 2015 and 2016 to $29 billion – equal to 1.4 per cent of Canada’s total GDP;
  • 82% of Canadians participated in some form of second-hand transaction in 2016 – 73% of them acquired at least one second-hand good and 69% of them disposed of one or more previously used goods;
  • Saving and earning money are among the top motivators for Canadians to get involved in the Second-Hand Economy;
  • The average Second-Hand Economy buyer saved $843 on purchases last year (up considerably from $480 the year before), while the average seller netted $1,037 in “found money” from disposing of things they no longer needed;
  • The number one use for money saved/earned through the Second-Hand Economy was for routine purchases such as gas, groceries or rent;
  • Young millennials (age 18-24) are more likely than the general population (51% vs 39%) to see the Second-Hand Economy as a resource to make extra money;
  • A decline in household income or moving to a new home are the foremost life changes that positively impact participation in the Second-Hand Economy;
  • Family, friends and acquaintances are the top channel for second-hand activity, followed by Kijiji, which is the #1 commercial channel (larger than all other online platforms combined), and then thrift shops or networks with a social mission.


Alberta leads the nation in second-hand activity with an intensity index of 91, which is well above the national average (78), followed by the Prairies, Ontario and British Columbia. Atlantic Canada and Quebec had the lowest involvement in the Second-Hand Economy coming in 24 and 11 items lower than the national average, respectively.

Among cities, Calgary was Canada’s second-hand hotspot in 2016, with Cowtown residents giving new life to 104 items, while Edmonton and Montreal rounded out the top three cities; Winnipeg, Quebec City and Toronto showed the lowest Second-Hand Economy engagement.

The top 5 most exchanged items are clothing, shoes and accessories; entertainment products; baby clothing and accessories; games, toys and video games; followed by leisure items and crafts.

Across the country, the Second-Hand Economy moves in lock-step with the overall economy: the more people are working and the higher their wages, the more they make use of the Second-Hand Economy to acquire or dispose of used items.

“In this year’s report, we were able to analyze how the Second-Hand Economy has evolved over the past three years and we can see just how sizeable it is – it’s a province unto itself in terms of economic scale – and what a consistent part of life it has become for Canadians,” said, Marie Connolly, Professor of Economics at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), School of Management. “The Second-Hand Economy is driven by the fact that people are looking for value, and for ways to help make ends meet, while also wanting to reduce waste by finding new uses for goods that are still viable.”

The full report can be viewed here:

About the Kijiji Second-Hand Economy Index

The survey was conducted online for the Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable (Observatory of Responsible Consumption – OCR) of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in partnership with MBA Recherche between October 17 and November 4, 2016. Data was collected using a sample of 5,752 total respondents representative of the Canadian population. Respondents aged 18 or more were selected from a pan-Canadian Web panel according to pre-specified retention criteria such as gender, age and place of residence. Given that responses were obtained from a panel, the computation of the margin of error does not apply. This research was conducted under the supervision of Professor of Marketing Fabien Durif and in collaboration with Professor of Economics Marie Connolly, both from the UQAM’s School of Management.

The aim of the survey was to gather information on Canadians' participation in the second-hand economy. This study provides an estimate of the size of the second-hand economy in Canada, and also measures the intensity of consumers’ second-hand practices in the last 12 months: that is the process of acquiring second-hand goods and the process of disposing new or used goods.

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