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The Next Economy
New Report Sees Home Furnishings Recommerce Eclipsing Traditional Retail

As circular business models continue to increase in popularity, Chairish’s report finds the resale furniture industry projected to grow by 54% over the next five years; two-thirds of consumers surveyed think resale will play a significant role in the future of sustainability.

Today, Chairish — the leading online marketplace for new, used, unique and vintage home furnishings — released the Chairish 2021 Home Furnishings Resale Report, its first-ever study on the state of recommerce in the home furnishings industry. The report reveals the supercharged growth of e-commerce and recommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, the environmental benefits of resale and the buyer habits that are propelling the pre-owned movement forward.

A flurry of recent studies have pointed to an explosion in consumer demand for used and refurbished products — including apparel and personal electronics — as circular business models gain popularity in the developed world. On the furniture front, according to Chairish’s report, 66 percent of US homes now have resale home goods and furniture (a trend that fellow furniture giant IKEA, which recently expanded its buyback and resell service to the US, is also looking to foster). Chairish says it has “re-homed” more than 550,133 vintage, antique and pre-owned items since its founding in 2013. The leading online destination for the high-end home furnishings with over 85 percent pre-owned inventory, Chairish also saw a 60 percent increase in sales last year.

This growth reflects the accelerating popularity of resale home furnishings, due to factors including:

  • Increased awareness of the environmental benefits of buying pre-owned items for the home

  • A renewed interest in home decor and improvements, as a result of most of us spending more time at home since the onset of the pandemic

  • Supply chain issues in the broader home segment, also thanks to the pandemic, which slowed the manufacturing and delivery of new goods

The report, which includes a survey of 3,485 US consumers on recommerce and the furniture and home goods retail market, also projects the resale home furnishings category to grow by 54 percent over the next five years — 3.5 times faster than traditional retail — with $16.6 billion worth of secondhand furniture expected to be sold by 2025, a 70 percent increase from 2018.

With 12 million tons of home furnishings thrown out each year in the US, the environment has become a growing priority for consumers as many have realized the benefits of resale. According to Chairish’s report, 71 percent of US buyers of pre-owned furnishings believe their purchase is better for the planet and two-thirds think resale will play a significant role in the future of sustainability.

Resale is becoming increasingly popular for aesthetic reasons, too: 76 percent of shoppers say they like pre-owned home decor because of the individuality and uniqueness of the pieces. The trend shows no signs of slowing — with 44 percent of Gen Z anticipating that they will resell their home furnishings in the future, especially as they prepare for home ownership and furnishing their own spaces.

“When we started Chairish eight years ago, our focus on vintage and antique furnishings was motivated by our own personal passion for great, one-of-a-kind style,” said Gregg Brockway, co-founder and CEO of Chairish. “Over time we — along with millions of other design lovers — have come to appreciate the practical and environmental benefits of recommerce. Chairish is committed to a more sustainable home furnishings industry and we feel it is important to share the significant findings of our research.”

Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • Online furniture and houseware sales reached $36.1 billion in 2020, an increase of 41 percent from 2019.

  • 70 percent of shoppers plan to continue purchasing pre-owned products online post-pandemic.

  • 86 percent of shoppers say they love to hunt for pre-owned, vintage and antique home furnishings.

  • 80 percent of shoppers say quality is important when choosing pre-owned furniture and home decor, as higher-quality goods stay in the circular economy longer.

  • 44 percent of Millennials have resold pieces of furniture.

  • 31 percent of Millennial and Gen Z consumers said the pandemic increased their interest in buying used, vintage or antique furniture online.

  • A majority of respondents from every generation expect retailers and brands to become more sustainable in the future.

Chairish has also proudly announced that it offsets 100 percent of estimated carbon emissions from US shipping: The company expects to offset 588 metric tons of carbon emissions over the next year, the equivalent of recycling over 25,000 bags of waste or planting 9,700 trees.