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Second-hand retail in the UK - Statistics & Facts

With rising concern about the environmental and ethical costs of the consumer goods industry worldwide, second-hand retail has seen growing importance over recent years. In the United Kingdom (UK), there are a total of 3,943 stores specialized in selling second-hand goods and it is an industry employing an average of 36 thousand people. During 2019, sales in these stores saw a 17.6 percent rise in value, a notably large increase on the past two years.

One of the most common types of second-hand stores in the UK is the charity shop. In 2018, sales in charity shops reached 732 million British pounds, representing an increase of approximately 29 million on the previous year. British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and Cancer Foundation are among the leading charity retailers based on revenue. British Heart Foundation alone generated an income of approximately 176.4 million British pounds in the 2016/17 financial year and has 724 stores located across the country. Spending in charity shops is most popular in Oxford, London, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham, which have the highest average monthly spend per individual. In London, residents spend an average of thirteen British pounds a month in charity shops.

The UK also plays a key role in trading second-hand and used goods worldwide. In 2018, it ranked as the world’s second biggest exporter of used clothing, with exports valuing at approximately 541.41 million U.S. dollars. Ghana is the leading destination country for the UK’s second-hand clothing exports, followed by Poland, Pakistan, Ukraine and Nigeria. The value of used clothing imported into the United Kingdom is considerably lower than that which is exported. In 2018, these imports were worth approximately 74.41 million U.S. dollars.

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Second-hand retail trade in the United Kingdom (UK)

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Charity shops


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