Secondhand furniture can have an incredible appeal in design. Aside from adding a unique style in certain cases, they can be affordable, sustainable and most of all healthier—if they were suitably maintained over their lifespan. Considering most products off-gas nearly all of their VOCs in the first couple years, a vintage piece of furniture can mean good news for indoor air quality.
Of course, other benefits include being able to circumvent supply chain issues, which is what has many consumers interested in the first place. According to Chairish, the online destination for unique and chic home furnishings, vintage items aren’t subject to inflation or material and production delays. Plus, there’s a level of character to them not often found in newer, more ‘cookie-cutter’ releases.
It’s all of these factors combined that are driving the growth of ‘recommerce’ in home furnishings, according to the Chairish 2022 Home Furnishings Resale Report. Gone are the days when buying secondhand comes with a stigma. The resale market is now exploding at a rate that seems to signal many consumers are done with traditional furniture manufacturing models.
Here, we look Chairish’s findings and why professionals may want to consider buying secondhand furniture for projects (if that isn’t happening already).
Two-Thirds of Homeowners Consider Resale Furnishings Before Purchase
The report found that online resale is expected to grow 86% across all categories from 2021 – 2027. That’s outpacing expected growth in traditional retail by a threefold margin, notes Chairish in the report.
Part of that has to do with the fact that the stigma that used to be associated with used furniture simply isn’t there anymore, with 97% of respondents stating that they have no qualms about purchasing secondhand. In the past year alone, 36% of respondents had purchased a piece of furniture secondhand, and 81.3% state that they’re considering resale in their furnishing options.
Rather than it being all a matter of frugality, however, there is another element at play, Chairish has found. As income levels increase among consumers, so too does their willingness to purchase secondhand increase. In the report, a homeowner’s ‘affinity’ for vintage items rose directly with their income bracket from $15K-$49K (28%) to $50K-$149K (41%) to $150K-$300K (43%).
The uniqueness alone of many different types of vintage décor adds to the allure for these particular customers, as it represents an item that cannot be replicated anywhere else in modern design.
Secondhand Furniture Solves Many Issues Affecting the Current Market
Inflation has hit an all time high, with little signs of reversing any time soon, and the furniture market has been one of the hardest hit. Prices have gone up 10.2% in year over year numbers, and consumers have taken note of it, with 80% of respondents saying they’ve noticed it themselves in the report.
However, resale furniture doesn’t get subjected to the same economic forces, and once again, consumers have noticed this. Nearly 25% of consumers say they’ve moved to secondhand because of inflation, while 67% agree that buying secondhand is a good way to save money.
Beyond that, consumers have grown far more savvy when it comes to sustainability measures. A recent report by the NKBA even confirms this, with professionals in the kitchen & bath industry stating that sustainability is being brought up more and more on projects, specifically as it relates to the products and the practices of manufacturers.
According to Chairsh’s report, 54% of consumers strongly support buying secondhand for these reasons. A quarter of all respondents even go so far as to cite sustainability as their key motivating factor for buying secondhand. By buying secondhand, consumers see themselves as supporting the circular economy, which helps circumvent nearly all the waste associated with traditional ‘fast furniture.’
Secondhand is also ready to ship the second it’s ordered. Since it’s already been created, all it needs to do is be delivered. Products can also be selected and shipped locally, saving time and further minimizing the carbon cost of associated transportation.
The Push for Vintage Furnishings Is Already Happening Among Professionals
Chairish goes on to say that the push isn’t solely happening on a direct-to-consumer basis, professionals are already changing their purchasing habits to match. In the report, 70% of designers said they are buying more vintage products today than they were back in 2021. In fact, the report found that 45% of a typical residential design project’s budget now goes into vintage furnishings and décor.
As to why, 90% of designers in the report stated it was because it “makes a space more multidimensional.” Meanwhile, 60% stated that buying vintage was “kinder to the planet” and 50% said they prefer its immediate availability and shorter lead times.
That 90% echoes yet another trend found in the NKBA report as well, with more and more projects combining styles, textures and colors to create some truly unique designs for clients.
More Information About the Report
In addition to Chairish internal sales data, Chairish partnered with Global Data, a third-party analytics firm for the research of the report. Global Data’s assessment of the secondhand market is determined through individual retailers, official government data, industry data and other sources. These inputs are used by analysts to model and calculate market sizes, channel sizes, and market shares. Additionally, GlobalData conducted a survey in April + May 2022 of 2,500 American adults over 18, asking specific questions about their behaviors and preferences for resale home furnishings.
For the wording used in this report, a list of exact definitions are as follows:
- Used constitutes previously owned furniture made within the last 30 years.
- Vintage is any furniture made within the last 30 to 100 years.
- Secondhand or Pre-owned applies to both used and vintage sets of furniture.