While half (50%) of UK adults said they would like to live in a clutter-free home - potentially envying the minimalistic style favoured by our Scandinavian neighbours - the findings show that we are often reluctant to part with a variety of unused items, such as clothing, accessories, electronics and books. In fact, two in five of those questioned said they struggled with enough storage space at home (40%) and one in five admitted to being a hoarder (20%).
Of the respondents who said they currently had unused items in their home, 17% said they were reluctant to part with belongings they no longer use because they feel emotionally attached to them, while 23% said they just hated the thought of throwing things away.
The value of unused items in peoples' homes ranged from a couple of pence to thousands of pounds.
To put the £17 billion figure in context, that is enough to cover the entire cost of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and would still leave you with enough spare change to buy every single club in the English Premier League, plus a fleet of five Boeing 747s. Put another way, £17 billion is more than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Paraguay.
Other interesting findings from the survey include:
- Over half of Britons (55%) who currently have unused items in their home said they don't get rid of unused items on the off chance that theymightuse them again in the future;
- More men (21%) than women (20%) would consider themselves a hoarder;
- More women (16%) than men (12%) would describe their partners as a hoarder;
- Women are the worst culprits for hanging onto fashion, with over two in five (41%) hoarding unworn items; this figure falls to just over one in five of men (23%);
- Of those who have unused items potentially cluttering their homes, 13% of men admit they are just too lazy to get rid of them, versus just 9% of women.
"We are all guilty of holding onto things we never use anymore, either because of an emotional attachment or because we just can't bear to part with our possessions. The unfortunate irony is that in a landscape where thousands of people are turning to payday loans to make ends meet, we don't realise the potential value locked up in our unused items. Rather than filling our attics, cellars and cupboards under the stairs, these hoarded treasures could easily be passed onto another loving owner - while making you some money in the process." Armin Strbac, co-founder of Shpock
"Since launching here in March, we've already seen over £20 million worth of UK items listed on Shpock. However, today's findings show there are many, many more millions out there. This isn't about selling the family heirlooms to make some fast cash, but looking at the unused everyday items which clog each and every household in Britain." Armin Strbac, co-founder of Shpock
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2590 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd - 3rd July 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
The £17bn figure was calculated by Shpock, using the stated value of unused items (median from each bracket) which respondents said they had at home and multiplying that figure by the UK population of Great Britain aged over 18. For a full breakdown of the calculation, please get in touch.