You’re probably more familiar with seeing things like secondhand books or refurbished tech products available at steep discounts. But chances are high that if you’re following recent trends, you’ve hopped into the secondhand furniture industry, too.
In a surprising new Chairish 2022 Home Furnishings Resale Report, we discovered that it’s not just people hoping to save a dollar who are turning to sites like Chairish (an online marketplace for vintage home furnishings), IRL vintage stores and beyond. In fact, it’s individuals who are hoping to make a difference and stylish folks who want to add one-of-a-kind features to their home as well.
“The one-of-a-kind nature of vintage pieces counters the big box blandness of widely available newly made goods,” explains Gregg Brockway, CEO and cofounder of Chairish in the 2022 report. Plus, “the environmental benefits of recommerce are undeniable.” (In case you missed it, check out our sneak peek inside the digital world of vintage and antiques shopping.)
Since many of us were still staying closer to home—and investing in that space rather than, say, travel—the home furnishing market grew twice as fast from 2020 to 2021 as it did the previous year, according to GlobalData 2022 Resale Home Furnishings Market Research. Americans are now investing about $415 billion per year on furnishings, and this is expected to top $477 billion by 2027.
The resale and vintage industry makes up a healthy portion of that, to the tune of about $289 billion. More than one in three Americans (36 percent) have purchased secondhand furniture or decor in the past year, and nearly all of us (97 percent) say there is zero stigma associated with buying resale furniture.
In fact, it’s becoming a much bigger trend among the most affluent shoppers: People who are searching for luxury goods often focus on resale items because they’re unique, difficult to replicate and often tell a richer story than that same ol’ CB2 couch that the whole neighborhood owns. About 28 percent of those who earn less than $49,000 shop secondhand, while 41 percent of those with a household income between $50,000 and $149,000 do. A whopping 43 percent of those who earn between $150,000 to $300,000—the most affluent group polled—seek out vintage goods.
Designers are swooning over secondhand home decor as well; 98 percent have used vintage art or furniture in their projects, per Chairish’s 2022 Interior Designer Survey.
So why are more of us shopping secondhand? The top four reasons, according to this Chairish report, appear to be:
- Better value amidst inflation
- Larger, more diverse selection
- Quicker fulfillment and fewer supply chain delays
- Less of an environmental impact (selling and shopping secondhand is one of our favorite forms of recycling!)
All of these factors are very true and important, but the final detail is one that really caught our eye. This is especially true after we learned about how big of a share “fast furniture,” which is similar to “fast fashion” that’s designed for style over substance and sustainability, has of the overall home economy.
Get this: Only about 9 percent of our global economy is “circular,” meaning that it involves some form of leasing, sharing, reusing, repairing, recycling and/or refurbishing. That means more than 90 percent of the resources we use and consume are not reused, reports the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and more than 12 million tons of home furnishings alone are thrown out every year in the U.S. For perspective, back in 1960, we tossed 2 million tons, according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If we leaned more into the circular economy for frequent furnishing components like aluminum, plastic and steel, we could make a major dent in reducing global carbon gas emissions.
It’s green, it’s gorgeous, and it’s a trend we’re glad to see growing. So the next time you’re looking for a home refresh, don’t shy away from secondhand. Our tips for how to flawlessly style antiques and vintage pieces will help guide you through how to make your new investments look right at home.