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Rent, repair, resell: circular economy looks set to grow, according to IPA survey

Consumers are increasingly looking to rent, repair and resell items, as the cost of living continues to bite. This is according to a new survey of 2,000 people aged 18+, commissioned by the IPA and carried out by Opinium about the circular economy.

The survey reveals that the most common circular economy activity is giving items away to charity, friends, and family, with 71% of people looking to do so more, or the same amount as last year. Breaking this down, nineteen percent of consumers plan to give away more items than last year, while 53% plan to give away the same amount as last year. More than a fifth of women (21%) plan on giving items away to charity, friends, and family more this year. This compares to 16% of men.

The second most popular circular economy activity is repairing items, with a total of 57% of respondents stating that they either plan to do this more themselves this year (17%) or the same amount (40%) as last year. This is followed by 55% of people saying they intend to buy items from second-hand shops (19% more this year and 37% the same amount). Meanwhile, 49% say they will buy items from a resale platform, such as eBay and Vinted – of which 15% more and 33% the same amount; and 46% intend to sell items on a resale platform – of which 20% intend to do this more and 26% the same amount as last year.

More men (13%) than women (9%) plan to have their items professionally repaired more this year than
last year. Meanwhile, more women (18%) than men (16%) are intending to repair items more
themselves this year. Electronics are the most popular items overall to buy refurbished at 45%, compared to 29% for vehicles and 28% for clothes.

Nearly a third (29%) of 18-34s intend to sell items on resale platforms more than last year, while a
quarter (25%) plan on buying more from these platforms.

Commenting on the findings, Sophie Dimond, Insight Analyst. IPA said: “With the continuing cost-of-living crisis, coupled with consumers’ increased awareness and anxiety around supply chain and sustainability issues, it is clear that the circular economy is becoming increasingly significant. It will be interesting to see how companies and brands can capitalise on this – from these results we are already seeing a considerable rise in popularity of resale sites such as Vinted and eBay.”

The full Rent, Repair, Resell: The rise of the circular economy free for IPA members and costs £50 for non-members.