Second-hand shopping a $1-billion-plus business for Amazon in Europe

Customers visit the Second Chance Store, a new shop selling returned and refurbished products from Amazon's Second Chance programmes in-person in central London, Britain November 28, 2023. John Nguyen/Handout via REUTERS.

LONDON (Reuters) - Consumer demand for refurbished and pre-owned goods in Britain and across Europe has created a billion pound ($1.3 billion) business for Amazon, its UK boss said.

Many retailers and manufacturers expect that trend to continue as shoppers, hit by rising prices and borrowing costs, look to save cash and buy more sustainably.

John Boumphrey, Amazon's UK Country Manager, told reporters that in the UK alone the online retail giant last year sold more than 4 million used or refurbished products at a discount.

In the first nine months of 2023, Amazon's sales of second-hand goods in the UK increased by more than 15% on the same period last year, he added.

Amazon UK's total revenue in 2022 was 24 billion pounds.

"Customers are telling us that they’re shopping second hand items to save money in the ongoing cost of living crisis and because they want to shop more sustainably," Boumphrey told reporters.

He was speaking at the launch of Amazon UK's "Second Chance Store" - a Christmas pop-up shop in London selling returned and refurbished items.

Amazon has a goal to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Many environmental campaigners are sceptical about the willingness of major companies to cut emissions, seeing it as more of a public relations exercise. But large companies say they can make a difference due to their scale.


Boumphrey also told Reuters that Amazon bosses were frustrated by the amount of regulatory change in Europe, and Britain in particular, and were questioning whether they have enough visibility to invest.

"There’s an awful lot of changes to regulation, not only in the UK but also in Europe, and one of the things they’re asking is: is this going to give us long term certainty," he said in an interview.

He highlighted concerns over the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently making its way through the UK parliament, which will give Britain's antitrust regulator legal powers to tailor rules for big tech companies.

Boumphrey's comments come after the UK government this week hailed 29.5 billion pounds of foreign investment as a sign Britain was regaining its business appeal following the uncertainty triggered by its departure from the European Union and last year's political turmoil.

Amazon has invested 56 billion pounds in Britain since 2010, including 12 billion in 2022 alone, Boumphrey said.

($1 = 0.7913 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter)

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