From left are leather tote bags by Prada and MCM. The second-hand items are the top sellers at Inter-Park. / Courtesy of InterPark
By Rachel Lee
Unable to pay the exorbitant price of a brand new luxury handbag, 30 year old Park Joo-hee recently purchased one second-hand through an online shopping site. Initially, she hesitated to do this but now knows she made the right decision.
"I can't afford to buy designer goods these days as I once did because I am almost broke. I decided to opt for a second-hand product instead since I cut down my expenses. I am happy with it, a good buy in excellent condition at an affordable price," said the freelance designer Friday.
Online stores selling high-end second-hand goods are beginning to grow in popularity and are likely to continue doing so due to the country's continuing recession steadily squeezing most people's wallets.
On Friday, Gmarket, one of the country's leading e-commerce companies, said that overall sales of second-hand luxury items last year increased by 57 percent year-on-year. Sales of men and women's clothing rose by 26 and 70 percent respectively, while those of bags and wallets went up by 39 percent. The biggest increase of all in online sales was enjoyed by accessories, which saw a 129 percent rise year-on-year, more than double the figure in 2011.
The same applies to Auction, eBay's local unit and the country's largest onlineretailer. The total sales of second-hand goods jumped by 50 percent.
According to the company, consumer demand for second-hand products has increased especially after expanding its range of brands and goods in partnership with another second-hand luxury online store Koibito from January last year. The company said Louis Vuitton and Burberry bags and other accessories such as scarves and watches are the best sellers.
Online shopping mall InterPark also saw sales growth of 28 percent over the last year. Sales of second-hand bags rose by 16 percent, and the company said the best selling items are Prada's fabric black leather tote bag and MCM's leather tote bag, which cost 339,250 won and 293,250 won respectively.
Industry insiders say popularity has grown mostly due to the country's prolonged downturn and changing distribution systems.
"The Korean luxury market matured over the last few years with diverse distribution channels," Lim Jong-mook, a PR specialist at InterPark said Friday during a telephone interview. "Online distributors have gained trust among consumers so their tendency to rely on huge department stores has declined."
Lim also added that the number of people wanting to sell items is increasing so that "they can make money in unstable economic conditions. And also the prices are reasonable and affordable and some companies even offer a one-year warranty, which is a bonus. The future of the second-hand luxury online market seems promising.".