Canadians get thrifty with second-hand furniture to save amid rising living costs

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Canadians are finding new ways to save money amid inflation and rising living costs — including filling their spaces with second-hand furniture.

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The price of furniture has soared across the country due to the increased cost of materials and supply chain issues. One store owner in B.C. said the cost of raw materials at his factory has gone up 35 per cent monthly. Shipping a container of supplies from Asia used to come with a price tag of $1,800 in 2019. But that number has skyrocketed to $20,000 this year, Rick Ripoli told CBC News in January.

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Canadians have noticed the changes and are posting about it online. One user on Twitter noticed there was a 30 per cent year over year increase on the price of a popular bookcase from Ikea Canada.

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Another Twitter user noticed the same for another bookcase, that went from $150 to $199.

“That’s a 33% increase,” they wrote. “Glad I ordered it last week because WOW what a jump.”

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A 2021 survey found that furniture made up 30 per cent of second-hand items purchased by Canadians, according to Statista. The used item Canadians purchased the most was clothing. More than 80 per cent of Canadians said they have shopped at a thrift store.

The rising cost of furniture has forced Canadians to get thrifty. And there are now new ways to do so — with social media accounts, apps and websites dedicated to selling previously used items that cater to this growing interest.

In Toronto and the GTA, there are more than 40,000 people using an app called Karrot, which focuses on buying and selling in a sustainable way within communities. Facebook groups — like PALZ Selling Zone — are also a popular place for discounted furniture. For those who want to forego payments altogether, there are websites like Bunz, which relies entirely on trading items rather than using cash, and social media accounts like Stooping Toronto, which highlights curbside items that are free for the taking.

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The trend of buying second-hand furniture has become increasingly important, according to a recent poll by Ikea Canada. It found that for the majority of Gen Z customers in particular, wanting to save more money was a major factor in why they shop for used furniture. Seventy-eight per cent of Gen Z customers said it helped them stay within budget.

Sustainability was another driving factor for the next generation, with 68 per cent saying that retailers should be buying back and reselling furniture. Even more Gen Z shoppers — 74 per cent — thought it was important for retailers to keep their products out of landfills.

Another reason to buy second-hand is that the pieces are usually unique. For example, one shop in Toronto, The Apartment, focuses on vintage finds from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Its Instagram account is a testament to second-hand shopping’s growing popularity. It has more than 58,000 followers.

“In most cases, vintage furniture costs up to 80 per cent less, is better made and immediately available and brings character, uniqueness and style to a room,” founder of Chairish, an online retailer, Anna Brockway told Forbes.

“It is also kinder to the planet.”

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