Canadians turn to the second-hand market amid tepid economic growth

TORONTO - When Amahl Arulanandam decided to get back into playing guitar in 2014, he turned to Kijiji.

The online classifieds site helped him score a Jackson guitar for $250 - a steep discount from the $600 he estimates it's worth.

See Full Article

Since then, Arulanandam has bought three bicycles using Kijiji. The first turned out to be a dud, but that hasn't deterred him.

"I make a reasonable amount of money but it's not a regular, fixed income," says the freelance musician.

"Anywhere that I can save money just to make sure that I'll have a float for later on, in case I have a dry month, that's always helpful."

The second-hand economy - which includes everything from used goods stores to classified websites to online communities where users can trade goods - provides consumers with an opportunity to save money on their purchases or earn a little extra cash by selling stuff they no longer need.

With the economy projected to grow at a tepid pace this year, some economists say the number of Canadians participating in this segment of the economy is likely to grow.

"In every downturn, there are always people that get harder hit that are looking for ways of trying to MacGyver a better quality of life with whatever they've got," says Armine Yalnizyan, a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

"And it doesn't always take money. You can spend less and live well, if you can figure out how to work with others who can trade stuff that you want."

According to a report sponsored by Kijiji released earlier this week, roughly 85 per cent of Canadians took part in some form of second-hand transaction last year.

The report, which polled 5,990 people online, estimates that the second-hand economy contributes as much as $36 billion to Canada's GDP.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, the polling industry's professional body, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

While much of the second-hand economy involves purchasing goods outright, there is another component that doesn't involve money changing hands at all.

In online bartering communities like Bunz Trading Zone, popular amongst millennials, users swap their unwanted items for things that they need.

Emily Bitze started the Toronto-based community in 2013 when she was working at a vintage shop and found herself so stretched one day that she couldn't afford pasta sauce for her spaghetti.

"I lived paycheque to paycheque," Bitze recalls. "There were often times where I couldn't afford to actually buy food."

Bitze decided to create a Facebook group where she could trade goods with her friends. Since then, the online community has swelled to more than 30,000 members, and Bitze recently launched a smartphone app. A countrywide expansion and a U.S. launch are in the works.

Lindsay Tedds, a co-author of the Kijiji study and a professor at the University of Victoria, says most transactions in the second-hand economy represent new economic activity - purchases that wouldn't have happened otherwise. That means they aren't detracting from economic growth.

However, in some instances consumers who would have bought new goods are turning to the second-hand economy instead - a phenomenon that can further fuel the cycle of slow economic growth, says Yalnizyan.

"If they're buying used because it's something they need and can't afford it new, it will slow down the economy," Yalnizyan says.

Bunz partner David Morton says that isn't the millennial generation's problem to solve.

"We're going to let the economists sort that out," says Morton.

"Whoever is to blame for the current economic situation - it's not us. We've just entered the workforce. The people who have been working and voting and being a part of the system since before we were alive, they're the ones who put us in this position. We're just taking care of us."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Calgary and Saint John mayors urge NEB to reverse Energy East pipeline ruling

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Mayors from both ends of the proposed Energy East pipeline are calling for the National Energy Board to reverse its requirement that upstream and downstream emissions be included in its review of the $15.7-billion conduit. Source
  • Lawsuit tossed against Little Caesars over non-halal pepperoni

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- A judge has rejected a lawsuit against a pizza franchise, alleging it sold pork as "halal pepperoni" at one of its locations in a Detroit suburb. The Detroit Free Press reports that on Thursday the Wayne County judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Dearborn resident Mohamad Bazzi against Little Caesars Pizza. Source
  • Walmart testing service that delivers right into customers' fridges

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Would you be OK with letting a stranger into your house for the sake of convenience? Walmart is testing the idea with a new service that lets a delivery person walk into your home when you're not there to drop off packages or put groceries in the fridge. Source
  • Quebec renews Uber's permit for another year with tighter rules

    Economic CTV News
    Quebec's transportation minister is renewing a deal allowing ride-hailing company Uber to operate for another year in the province. Laurent Lessard says the deal extension tightens the rules under which the San Francisco-based company will be permitted to continue offering its services to Quebecers. Source
  • Canadian firm applies to build $10-billion Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The Canadian company whose proposal to build an LNG export terminal in Oregon was derailed by U.S. regulators last year has resubmitted its application for a bigger, more expensive project. Calgary-based Veresen Inc. Source
  • OPEC says winning battle to end oil glut

    Economic CBC News
    OPEC and other oil producers are clearing a glut that has weighed on crude prices for three years and may wait until January before deciding whether to extend their output curbs beyond the first quarter of 2018, ministers said on Friday. Source
  • Mastermind Toys ramps up expansion even as Toys "R" Us flounders

    Economic CBC News
    Jon Levy's favourite playthings as a Toronto child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s included Lego blocks and fort-building kits — classics that still fly off the shelves of his Mastermind Toy stores today. "My true innovation in this business is being able to get inside my inner kid and determine whether it is something truly fun to play with," said Levy, the chain's co-founder, CEO and chief toy merchant. Source
  • Ontario signs formal agreement to join Quebec-California carbon market in 2018

    Economic CTV News
    QUEBEC -- Ontario has formally signed an agreement to join Quebec and California's cap-and-trade system on Jan. 1, 2018. The province has been running its own system this year aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, with three sell-out auctions in a row. Source
  • Angry French famer block Champs-Elysees in pesticide protest

    Economic CTV News
    PARIS -- Angry French farmers are blocking Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in a protest against the government's agricultural policy. Sections of the normally pristine avenue were smothered in straw as about a hundred demonstrators brandished placards such as "Macron is killing farmers" and stopped morning traffic from passing Friday along the busy artery. Source
  • Angry French farmers block Champs-Elysees in pesticide protest

    Economic CTV News
    PARIS -- Angry French farmers are blocking Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in a protest against the government's agricultural policy. Sections of the normally pristine avenue were smothered in straw as about a hundred demonstrators brandished placards such as "Macron is killing farmers" and stopped morning traffic from passing Friday along the busy artery. Source