The year 2020 is a washout year for just about everyone worldwide. What started out as a healthcare pandemic has developed into a global economy recession, inflicting pain and suffering universally. In Singapore, our economy is not showing any signs of recovery in near sight, with a worst ever quarterly contraction of 13.2% for second quarter of 2020. Our full-year economic outlook was slightly lowered, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry now predicting gross domestic product will shrink between 5 per cent and 7 per cent in 2020, compared to the previous forecast range of -4 to -7 per cent.
In such a depressing global landscape, it is all the more important that Singaporeans band together to demonstrate the grit of our pioneers to think out of the box, innovate, strive to outlive and out-last the pandemic and recession.
A user behaviour study conducted by homegrown regional online classified brand, Carousell, revealed that Singaporeans may be more resourceful than we give ourselves credit for.
During the circuit breaker alone, the average Singaporean made S$2,200, selling on Carousell. This far surpassed what they previously thought they could make — in a survey fielded by Carousell in 2019, a majority of 58.8% of respondents felt that they could only make S$250 or less by selling underused items.
Taking the survey result with a pinch of salt, the amount made could range from people selling off family heirlooms or other valuable items to make ends meet to thriving entrepreneurs with new-to-market products. In any case, selling directly to buyers via Carousell cuts off the middlemen, allows for sellers to set prices and manage the transactions themselves.
The team at Carousell have curated a series of inspiring stories of grit among Singaporeans in tiding through this difficult time. Check out some of the stories below.
When asked about what drove them to buy and sell second hand items, a whopping 76% of the Carousell survey respondents cited the monetary benefits: getting a better deal from buying preloved items or making extra cash from selling items they no longer need. These motivations became more important during the pandemic, when Singaporeans made more than 1 million (1,157,858) transactions for second hand items to earn extra money, whether it was to save for rainy days, supplement income, or even to cushion the blow of losing a job.
There is still a lot more value to be unlocked in selling underused items. On Carousell’s marketplace alone, Singaporeans could be selling an additional $430 million dollars worth of second hand items.
With a wealth of items available, the second hand market has quickly become a top of mind destination for certain items like women’s fashion and electronics, two of Carousell’s historically popular categories. During the circuit breaker, electronics were still in demand, with over 6.2 million searches for Work From Home equipment. But Singaporeans were doing more than working from home—they clocked out of their home offices to visit their kitchens.
With the sudden surge in baking all over the world and likewise in Singapore, an average of 4 baking items were sold every hour on Carousell during the circuit breaker. There was a record 5 times increase in the search for baking items, with Singaporeans searching for all their baking needs on Carousell, from equipment like whisks (243,000 searches), to ingredients that were no longer on shelves, like cream cheese, vanilla extract and flour (338,000 searches).
After sourcing for what they needed to bake, Singaporeans then began to list their creations on Carousell too. For some, it was a simple and cathartic new experience to bake and sell on Carousell and for users like Zoey, it was an avenue to grapple with the cards they were dealt during the circuit breaker, making the best of it.
“I started this business as I lost my part-time job and fell out of a relationship. Times have been tough but my passion for baking has been a saving grace. I want to bake things for people with love and I give my all to each and every item I create,” Zoey shared.
For many, it was a chance to take control of their entrepreneurial pursuits. Some started selling from scratch, like Magdelene, who felt she was given a second chance to pursue her passion for baking during the circuit breaker and chose Carousell because of its local appeal to her target demographic. Others brought their existing brick and mortar businesses online, with Carousell’s new Local F&B category, which was launched to aid local business owners whose operations had been disrupted. More than 100,000 items were listed on Carousell’s F&B category during the circuit breaker.
For Valerie who started out stitching handmade masks for her kids, she has since sold over 300 of her masks over the past three months. Although she is not a seamster by trade, Valerie sources for her own cute fabrics to settle on the designs and material to ensure her masks are comfortable to wear for long hours. She then bought a sewing machine to keep up with the orders as her Carousell side gig grew in scale.
Sponsoring Children’s Education through Selling Handmade Candles and Fragrances
The health of her loved ones is important to Lynne, who started making her own body care products and candles that are free from toxins and unsafe chemicals. Over time, she was able to grew her side hustle on Carousell into a full-time business under the brand, Botanicals and Bees.
From her sales proceeds, Lynne is able to support several beneficiaries by sponsoring their education through 20% of her profits.
Fundraising for Migrant Workers’ Causes through Paintings and Postcards
Jane used to work with migrant workers and wanted to help them during the pandemic. As she can’t volunteer due to time commitment, Jane decided cash donation was the next best alternative to help. As she paints and draws as a hobby, she decided to raise funds by selling the paintings she did in her spare time.
To celebrate and share the stories of Carousellers who have exemplified true grit and resourcefulness, Carousell has earlier launched a #MakingTheBest campaign. For more Carousell stories, visit Carousell Stories section.