New data gives insight into Britains emerging side-hustle culture

Dec Connolly Editor


Almost one in three Brits claim to have a ‘side hustle’ – selling goods online to the tune of £200 a month. A poll of 3,000 adults found 67 per cent love trading their second-hand wares and send or receive an average of seven parcels per month. While 27 per cent claim selling online is their main source of income.

And the small business love is real, with 47 per cent saying they support side hustlers and independent businesses more than any other online retailer. Clothes, books and electronics are the most popular products shoppers and sellers are exchanging across the UK.

Of those who sell, just under half feel a sense of achievement when they ship a parcel off to its new home. While 36 per cent of buyers claim it puts a spring in their step when their parcel arrives, with 32 per cent describing a parcel delivery as the ‘highlight’ of their day.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer for Royal Mail Parcel Collect, which carried out the study to celebrate surpassing over six million items being collected since its launch in 2020, said: “It’s wonderful to see the nation’s entrepreneurship blossom and grow.

“We are delighted to play a pivotal role in making that possible – supporting the nation’s small businesses and side hustlers to distribute their precious cargo up and down the country, safely and reliably – from doorstep to doorstep.

“We are proud to be an enabler of everyday people, looking to pursue their dreams amid the cost-of-living crisis. We aspire to make our services as convenient as possible so everyone can manage their business from home – removing the need to trek heavy parcels to the local drop off point whenever they make a deserved sale.”

The study also found eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Etsy were the online marketplaces that respondents use most frequently, with one in five using Vinted.

Top reasons for using online platforms like these are saving money (42 per cent), enjoying the thrill of hunting down the perfect item (35 per cent), allowing someone else to enjoy something they no longer need (35 per cent), and giving items a new lease of life (31 per cent).

Environmental factors also play a role with a third using online marketplaces because it’s better for the environment, and 28 per cent wanting to set a good example to their kids about buying and selling pre-loved items, rather than buying new.

Sales are going so well for some that 41 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, have plans to develop their side hustle into their main source of income.

The over 65s are most likely to have plans already in place (60 per cent), with Londoners leading on this charge (58 per cent) versus six per cent in East Anglia.

Royal Mail’s spokesperson Nick Landon added: “We know how important the nation’s parcels are. Getting them to their new homes, in good hands, is our top priority.

“Our Parcel Collect service is part of our ongoing commitment to create innovative and convenient ways to collect and deliver precious parcels from our customers doorsteps, every day.”

Holly Tucker MBE, long-term partner of Royal Mail and founder of notonthehighstreet and Holly & Co, said: “It’s impressive to see how entrepreneurial we are as a nation, and how many of us are selling and sending parcels across the UK, from handmade wares through to second-hand goods.

“With many of us juggling side-hustles and full-time jobs, it’s important to be efficient with our time when it comes to running our ‘shops’, tapping into the tools and services available to support us.”

Holly Tucker has shared her five time-saving tips for sellers and side-hustlers:

Grab a notebook and scribble down everything that springs to mind for your creative rituals, your ordering system, customer service and marketing. Then identify the low-hanging fruit (the things you can change now) and the slow burners (the things you need to work on in order to change them). Try and tick a few things off each week, from both lists.

Each day, pick the three key tasks you need to prioritise. These are the jobs that will move the dial, and tackle them first. I like to dedicate the hour before anyone wakes up in my house, to this special and highly important list. Dedicating yourself to moving the business forward is not only great for the business, it’s brilliant for your mental health.

New technology is launching all of the time, allowing you to automate your least favourite tasks and time-consuming processes within your business – there’s a real beauty in streamlining your business.

Outsourcing can save you time and allow you to focus on driving your business forward in the areas you are most confident in. There’s no shame in reaching outside the business and asking for advice and help from others. The small business community is a vibrant and loving group, and if you don’t have the skills or knowledge, I can guarantee someone else will or will know exactly who to turn to.

Instead of trekking to a drop off point with arms full of parcels, have you considered having your post collected from your doorstep? Look for couriers which collect from home and wave goodbye to the effort and aggro of having to go out. Simply coordinate a collection time from your doorstep instead. Sounds good, right?