The annual value of online commerce between Finnish consumers is already in the hundreds of millions of euros. C2C e-commerce has become a popular hobby among young people in particular. The primary reason for buying products or services from other consumers is to save money.

C2C commerce on various Internet forums and trading platforms is growing rapidly in popularity. According to a Finnish Commerce Federation survey*, approximately two million Finns have bought or sold goods or services online during the past 18 months. The most popular platforms for C2C e-commerce are online marketplaces such as Tori.fi and Huuto.net, but various Facebook groups are also popular.

Large sums of money are changing hands in C2C e-commerce. The survey included the most typical product categories from household appliances to clothing and from equipment for sports and other hobbies to furniture. During a period of slightly over 18 months, the total value of C2C e-commerce in non-food goods was approximately EUR 500 million. In addition, motor vehicles, boats and related equipment was sold for approximately EUR 900 million.

“At this point this is not a marginal phenomenon. By comparison, last year Finns spent EUR 477 million on buying goods and services in Estonia,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The survey also included questions to consumers on buying services from other consumers. The use of the much-publicised Airbnb and Uber services is thus far relatively low in Finland. Some 158,000 Finns have used Airbnb, which acts as an intermediary for renting homes and apartments, in Finland or abroad, while some 38,000 Finns have used Uber, which is an intermediary for transport services. The majority of Uber and Airbnb users are under 35 years of age.

“The total value of the retail trade in Finland is declining for the third straight year. However, this does not represent the full picture of household consumption. It appears that consumption is becoming increasingly focused on online stores outside Finland as well as the C2C e-commerce sector, out of the reach of the tax authorities and regulation,” Kurjenoja estimates.

Affordability drives the shift to C2C e-commerce

The largest group of C2C e-commerce users is Finns under 50 years of age, with men and women equally well represented. C2C e-commerce appears to be particularly popular among families with children. Typical purchases include electronics, household appliances, furniture, clothing and shoes.

While the value of C2C e-commerce is already significant, simply drawing conclusions based on the sales advertisements posted on online marketplaces may result in an exaggerated estimate. The survey indicates that one out of three consumers who try to sell or rent an apartment fail to do so, and one out of four end up selling or renting at a price lower than their initial asking price. The majority of the sales of cars and boats were either concluded at a price lower than the asking price, or not at all.

Haggling over prices appears to be the most common source of frustration among sellers. Buyers, on the other hand, consider affordability and the opportunity to save money to be the key advantages of C2C e-commerce. As many as 78 per cent of those who have bought goods or services from other consumers online indicated that they saved money by doing so. Those who have made C2C e-commerce purchases perceive their financial situation as worse than those who have bought similar products from B2C online stores. Slightly more than one third of the respondents indicated they enjoy making C2C e-commerce purchases.

* The survey was conducted by TNS Gallup by means of an online-assisted GallupForum respondent panel. In October, a total of 4,568 respondents, aged between 15 and 79 and residing in mainland Finland, completed the survey. Of the respondents, 2,888 indicated that they have engaged in C2C e-commerce.

The C2C e-commerce survey is part of the research collaboration between the University of Tampere and the Finnish Commerce Federation.

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Further information:
Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi, tel. +358 (0)9 1728 5134

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 persons in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi