Can you really save money by shopping secondhand?

4 min | 03 June 2024

The Chase team

Secondhand shopping isn’t just for the eccentric dresser or the financially challenged – according to a recent survey, 46% of Brits purchased secondhand or refurbished items in 2023. Seasoned shopper Nikki – of no-spend week fame – shares what she’s learned from some of her favourite finds.

Classic black heels

My grandmother often said she had simple tastes – she liked expensive champagne and accessories by the Italian shoemaker to the stars.

Finding classic, well-made women’s shoes can often feel impossible. Mercifully, my grandmother’s favourite little heels are still available today – for the eyebrow-raising price of £635.

When a Knightsbridge department store offered a 10% discount for rewards scheme members and an additional 10% off past-season merchandise, the heels were now £508 – and out of stock in my size.

One Sunday, I spotted a pair in the window of a charity shop. In my size. For £48.

My £587 saving may not cover a new coordinating handbag – my grandmother, of course, always believed in matching one’s bag and shoes – but it might stretch to one secondhand.

New price: £635

What I paid: £48

Saving: £587

The knitting machine

New knitting machines can cost hundreds of pounds, so I was excited to find one at a car boot sale for just £20.

Then I tried it out. Apparently, it needs repairing, which might be easy for someone who knows what they’re doing, or disastrous if I attempt it myself.

I’m now considering selling it – a new or pre-owned machine from a knowledgeable dealer will likely cost less than the repairs.

Buying secondhand tech on spec can ultimately be more expensive than buying new, so do your research and look for a dealer who can help you with troubleshooting and repairs.

New price: £250

What I paid: £20

Potential saving (minus any repair costs): £230

The perfect kitchen table (and the purrfect tabby kitten)

I saved searches on auction sites and scoured the great online marketplace for weeks before finding the exact light-blue Formica table I wanted, at the exact price I wanted to pay.

'It’s been madness,' the woman said when I picked it up that night. 'One person called five times offering £100 more – I couldn’t believe it.'

I could. The man who had originally listed my cat on the internet had said he’d fielded multiple calls from people screaming down the phone – he chose me because I was the most normal. (My cat, Miss Moneypenny, likely chose me because I am not.)

Be persistent in your search, not with your communications with the seller.

Specialist antique shop price: Upwards of £100

What I paid: £25

Potential saving: £75

A record cabinet

The woman who listed her "mid-century cabinet" for £30 wasn’t sure if 'vinyls' would fit, but I was – I had recognised it as a record cabinet immediately.

However, I hated the idea of paying more for transportation than the cabinet itself. So, on one of the hottest days of the year, I took it on an hour-plus tube journey and carried it up and down multiple flights of steps while changing trains.

If you’re searching for something specific online, try using broader terms such as 'cabinet' or 'mid century' instead of 'mid-century record cabinet' – individuals may be less precise than professional dealers.

And, if you’re saving over £100, maybe consider booking that car.

Specialist antique shop price: Upwards of £150

What I paid: £30

Potential saving: £120

So… can you really save money by shopping secondhand?

I’ll be honest – shopping secondhand can be cost-efficient, but it isn’t always time-efficient.

However, if you have the time, know what you want and are willing to travel, secondhand shopping can help you find almost anything for a fraction of its retail price. You just have to put in the hours.

Looking for somewhere to keep your savings? Bank with Chase and you can open a saver account. Start saving with as little as you like, and we’ll calculate your interest daily and pay it monthly.

18+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account.

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