Retail in the Circular Economy

Written by Emma McCourt, Worlds Biggest Garage Sale.

In retail, shifts in culture, technological disruption, and increased competition on a global scale has led to intensifying volatility and uncertainty as consumers become more demanding and unpredictable in their spending. This is in part due to changing consumer values; people are seeking out experiences over ‘stuff’, and want to make meaning out of their lives – even if it is meaning-making in their consumption. For example, in fashion, statistics show consumers are increasingly valuing ethical and sustainably made clothing, in 2016 alone 65% of consumers in emerging markets actively sought out sustainably made fashion.

This shift in the retail landscape has led to an increase in obsolete inventory for retailers. It is now estimated 30% of retail inventory becomes dead or obsolete. In the United States alone dead inventory costs retailers approximately US$50-billion per year. The statistics for Australian retail’s dead inventory problem are not as readily available, however, Australian businesses send an estimated 6.5-million tonnes of waste to landfill annually.

Deadstock is no longer just an inventory problem, it is an environmental problem, and increasingly, a PR problem. Major retailers like Burberry and H&M made headlines and faced an onslaught of criticism this year when it was revealed they burnt billions of dollars worth of unsold stock. So how can retailers bring their deadstock to life, while creating social and environmental capital for their business?

Donate it!  

World’s Biggest Garage Sale is a Brisbane based start-up, designing solutions to commercialise the circular economy through the activation of dormant goods for good. Dormant goods are those goods households and businesses no longer want, need or use. Using the circular economy principles of recycle, reuse and repurpose World’s Biggest Garage Sale harnesses potential waste as a valuable resource, and preserves already made resources by maximising their lifetime.

At World’s Biggest Garage Sale we accept donations from local and national businesses. Some of our supporters are retailers looking to empower their community by donating obsolete inventory. In 2017 we had retailers like Black Milk Clothing and The Good Guys make donations to our event. Other businesses are in the middle of a refurbishment and want to donate furniture and equipment that would otherwise go to landfill. Last year Brisbane Airport Corporation donated furniture to our sale, and this year we have already received a generous furniture donation from Spicers Retreats for our 2018 event.

Donating to World’s Biggest Garage Sale has a number of benefits:

  • Saving your business money in the costs of disposing of obsolete inventory.
  • Empowering your community: donations are made from the profit of sales to charities, we have raised a total of $314,000 for charities. This year we are partnering with News Corp to support The Courier Mail Children’s Fund.
  • Create environmental capital for your business: We have diverted 3.3-million kilograms of waste through our events, ensuring our products go to new homes where they are valued rather than prematurely ending up in landfill.
  • Creating social value on a global scale: World’s Biggest Garage Sale has created $1.7-million in social impact value as a result of waste diversion and the prevention of wasted resources such as water, and CO2 emissions.
  • Build your brand awareness: World’s Biggest Garage Sale had 20,000 visitors to our single day shopping event last year, we have a highly engaged community who are passionate about our initiative.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get your business involved in World’s Biggest Garage Sale 2018 for our November 17 event, you can visit our website to register a donation here or contact us at