A survey of 1,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales, found that those in the South of England were more likely to buy second-hand goods than those in the North or the Midlands.
"The rise in second-hand sales over the last 10 years has been fuelled by the arrival of new methods of selling imported from abroad, namely the arrival of free ads and car boot sales," said David Landau, chairman of Loot, the classified advertisements paper, who commissioned the independent research. Mr Landau believes that the arrival of classified auctions via the Internet and telephone will further expand the second-hand market.
Consumer experts said that along with the increased convenience of buying second-hand goods there is a growing consciousness that people should not throw things away as readily as they used to.
"We are encouraged to recycle rubbish and this has generated a feeling that we ought to be preserving things," said Sue Keane, a consumer psychologist. "The day of the disposable toaster or hair-dryer has gone."
The numbers of people buying recycled goods varied according to region. Only 39 per cent of those in the North-west of England bought used goods compared to 57 per cent in the South-west and 53 per cent in the South- east.
"Although people in the North tend to earn lower incomes than those in the South, the cost of living is less and overall they have more disposable income and a better lifestyle so they may not feel the need to buy used goods," said Ms Keane.
The market could expand. Some 62 per cent of the survey's respondents said they would consider buying second-hand goods in the future. A third of people buying second-hand goods are buying more than they did five years ago.
The research showed that people of all ages and backgrounds were buying second-hand goods. Some 62 per cent of people aged 25 to 34 were most likely to buy them, compared with 38 per cent of people aged 65 and over. The increase in buying and selling used goods was greater among people aged 15 to 24 than any other age group.
The most popular second-hand purchase was cars, followed by furniture and furnishing, then electrical goods. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed bought second-hand clothing. Of the 36 per cent who bought second-hand furniture, nearly a quarter of all their furniture was second-hand.
Pat Cicceri, a nutritionist from London, said that she was both a buyer and a seller. "I use free ads and car-boot sales and have most recently sold items because I have moved flat. I sell household items and car parts and mostly buy car parts as my husband builds cars and collects antique tools. I get some great deals because they are almost new, yet I save on the VAT which makes these items very expensive," she said.
Charity shops, local or free advertisements, and car-boot sales were the most popular places to buy and sell second-hand goods.
The main reasons given for avoiding high street shops were saving money (58 per cent) and finding unusual items (36 per cent). Nearly a third said they believed goods should be recycled.
Nearly one-fifth of those interviewed said they bought second-hand goods for fun. "Second-hand goods are great value for money. I sell furniture and soft furnishing which seem popular," said Ruby Tucker, 68, from Nottingham. "My daughter also buys and sell through the classifieds. The best bargain we've had was a set of pine furniture which my daughter was able to get for a very reasonable price. We always seem to find what we are looking for and it is great fun," she said.Reuse content