Vilas Bhagade is your average Indian middle-class guy. But unlike so many of his ilk who are tightening pursestrings amid fears of another downturn, this 43-year-old has been on a year-long retail therapy spree. He has picked up a Bajaj Caliber motorbike, a flashy Samsung Windows mobile, and an all-in-one Lexmark printer, plus a microwave, an inverter and a few furniture items are on the cards.
No, he has neither landed a windfall profit, nor has he emptied out his life’s savings. His total shopping bill so far: Rs 18,400. So where is he bagging these wonder deals? Online classifieds, especially those peddling second-hand wares. “My needs have multiplied but my income hasn’t,” he says, succinctly justifying his choices.
Before you write off Bhagade as the Tsar of Thrift, here’s something to consider: the used-goods market in the country is estimated at around Rs 60,000 crore – and that’s excluding the automobile segment. And, over time, it’s not just the associated jargon that has been upgraded – think preowned instead of the derogatory ‘used’ – the entire market is slowly moving from a highly fragmented business to a more organised avatar.
The Economics of it All One way to look at liberalisation is through the average Indian’s shopping style. In the pre-reforms era, one would typically hold on to a product till it broke down completely, with zero hope of repairs, at which point the local kabadiwallah would stage an entry.