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Secondhand stuff gains popularity amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aug. 16, 2020 - 16:00 By Lee Sae-byul

Digital businesses dealing in used goods are enjoying sharp growth in South Korea, as coronavirus fears have influenced consumer preference in favor of online secondhand stores over other e-commerce platforms.

Market research conducted by Nielsen Korean Click showed that a quarter of domestic smartphone users -- approximately 10 million people -- use secondhand market services.

Competitive services including Carrot Market, Bunjang and Joonggo Nara are expanding rapidly as they target specific groups with different strategies and promote their own unique traits.

By using a GPS system to track users’ locations, Carrot Market allows direct transactions between neighbors. Bunjang is especially popular among teenagers and those in their 20s as it supports sales of both new and used products. 

Buying or selling used items online has quickly become a hot trend across the world since the coronavirus emerged. Economists forecast further growth in the secondhand market even as other industries continue to suffer from the economic recession sparked by the pandemic.

Several factors triggered this unusual surge in demand for secondhand goods. According to an analysis by a fashion publication Business of Fashion, the current crisis led people to rummage through their houses looking for things they could sell and to buy cheaper products in preparation for tough times.

Environmental concerns have also benefited the secondhand goods market and helped dispel negative perceptions of vintage stores, or thrift shops. As a result, buying used goods is now perceived as an eco-friendly act.

By Lee Sae-byul (