When second-hand comes first

Consumer behavior is changing as people are careful how they spend their money and are even finding takers for their used things that they would earlier just dump

By Jiang Chenglong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-04 07:17
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Students throng at a giant outdoor flee market at Chunhui Primary School in Deqing county, Zhejiang province, on March 29. XIE SHANGGUO/FOR CHINA DAILY

An increasing number of young people and college students are buying, and even selling, used goods, a trend that not only enhances the utilization of products but also reflects their evolving consumption behavior — favoring cost-effective but high-quality items over concerns about buying used stuff.

Yang Wanqing, 20, a sophomore at the Communication University of China, bought her first second-hand item — a JK uniform skirt — at the age of 16. A first-year student at senior high school at the time, she was a big fan of the JK uniform, which refers to the Japanese schoolgirl uniform, commonly worn by female high school students in Japan and an icon of Japanese pop culture.

"At that time, some kinds of skirts that could not be found on Taobao were available on Xianyu — China's largest platform trading in secondhand products, so I purchased a JK uniform skirt on Xianyu," Yang said.

Yang's love affair with the skirt continues and she frequently purchases discontinued styles of JK uniform skirt at remarkably low prices on second-hand platforms. "Because many styles are no longer available in the market, you can only find them on secondhand platforms, and their prices are much lower. Sometimes one can buy an almost new JK uniform at 70 percent less than the marked price," she said.

In addition, an increasing number of young people are selling their unused or unwanted items in the second-hand market.

In 2021, Feng Yiming, a senior at Renmin University of China, sold a movie ticket following a schedule change that stopped him from watching the film.

"I didn't know where to sell the ticket, but my classmate told me I could use platforms such as Xianyu, even inviting me to some WeChat groups specifically trading in second-hand movie tickets, with transactions taking place almost every day. And it's very cheap," he said.

This experience exposed Feng to the world of second-hand trading, both online and offline.

"Some graduates from our university would sell their used textbooks or dormitory items to us," he said. "Maybe they didn't want those items to go waste."

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