Online trading for new and second-hand goods is on a constant up curve.

Online trading platform Gumtree has seen a massive increase in the past year and now carries more than one million listings.

Head of Core Business at Gumtree South Africa Claire Cobbledick believes when South Africa finally sheds itself of the data cost choke chain, growth in online trading will become explosive across the board.

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“This already massive online trading economy is important and is under-estimated on formal analysis in several significant ways,” she says.

The thriving trade in second-hand goods is a result of the search for value by consumers in the tough economic climate and, in many instances, it displaces retail sales.

“Car sales are a classic example of this. Last year, we estimate that previously-owned cars outsold new ones in South Africa by two to one yet almost all the sales data and awards shows and industry analysis focusses on the new metal on the showroom floors,” says Cobbledick.

Car dealers seem to have adjusted to this shift and now operate cleverly and flexible in the previously-owned online space.

She says South Africans are only just beginning to appreciate how much potential value they have locked up in unused or unwanted goods.

“An Australian survey found that families could add 6% to their total household income by selling their unused goods online. And we estimate there’s more than R1 billion lying around in South African homes in unused, good condition.

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“Most importantly, the online space is the protagonist of a new economy in which anyone can become a retailer on their own terms. This phenomenon is in line with global trends and it could play a huge part in alleviating South Africa’s massive unemployment problem,” says Cobbledick.