As the 2019 spring-cleaning season kicks off, we’ve just released a study on what’s causing America’s home clutter epidemic. Our research shows that American households hold more than 5,300,000,000 (that’s 5.3 billion!) items that are no longer used.


Compounding this epidemic of unused stuff is low sell-esteemthe mistaken belief that we’re not good at selling or that nobody wants to buy our stuff.


Clutter crisis.

The accumulation of unused things in American closets, drawers and garages has reached a critical stage. Today, one in five Americans pays rent for self storage. Think about it … we’re paying rent to house stuff we don’t use. America has about as many self-storage facilities as it has Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway locations combined. Is this a first-world problem? Yes. Yes it is.


So if we have billions of useful but unused things — many in excellent condition or even brand new — what’s keeping us from selling them?


It’s likely one of these top 4 reasons that Americans listed to explain their low sell-esteem:

  1. “I’m not really sure what the items are worth.”
  2. “I don’t have enough time to sell the items.”
  3. “My items I’m no longer using probably aren’t worth anything.”
  4. “I don’t like dealing with strangers in person.”


Sound like you? You’re not alone.

Sixty-five percent of Americans suffer from low sell-esteem: while their homes grow more cluttered, two-thirds of our study participants expressed the belief that selling is too hard, takes too much time or is a hassle.


But interestingly, we don’t seem to have an issue with buying used items—just selling them. Fifty-nine percent of study participants said they’d purchased second-hand items in the past year, while only 33 percent had sold a second-hand item. This means we’re in a seller’s market.


“Low sell-esteem is holding too many people back from confronting the epidemic of clutter. This is about much more than spring cleaning,” said Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, founder of and Mercari’s Personal Finance Expert. “Overcoming low sell-esteem isn’t hard: just give selling a try. You’ll see it’s easier than ever with an app like Mercari that allows anyone to sell and earn some extra cash.”


Think you know selling? Think again.

Selling apps like Mercari are enabling millions of Americans to unlock the value from their drawers, closets, garages and self-storage units.


But still, the 65 percent of us with low sell-esteem mistakenly believe that:

“Selling takes too long.”

  • Mercari is designed with first-time sellers in mind, so it’s fast and easy.
  • In fact, the average time required to create a Mercari listing is about three minutes. You take a few pics, add a description, set a price, and boom: your item is listed.

“Nobody wants to buy my stuff.”

  • Mercari sellers reach millions of buyers in all 50 states, so stuff really sells. In 2019 the average Mercari seller is making $135 per month.
  • Mercari sellers earn more than sellers elsewhere, reporting 40% greater monthly sales than other marketplaces.  

“I don’t like meetups with strangers.”

  • Neither do we. On Mercari everything ships, so there are no awkward meetups.


And then there’s Mercari U.S. CEO John Lagerling:  “Mercari is on a mission to make selling easier than buying — to show people everywhere that anyone can sell,” he said. “Our users say reducing clutter in their homes is the top reason they sell on Mercari. We want to help more Americans overcome low sell-esteem by showing them how easy it is to sell and get paid for the things they no longer use. Mercari envisions a future where all useful things get used.


Our study also found that:

  • Fifty percent said they feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in their homes, with the average American household having 42 items they’re no longer using (that’s more than 5.3 billion items). They estimate they could get $723 if they were to sell the items: as a nation, we’ve got more than $93 billion hiding around our homes.
  • Women report holding onto 35 percent more unused items than men do. Women said they had an average of 48 unused items in their homes, while men said they have 36 things lying around.
  • The most common unused items people hold onto are:  
    1. Clothing (currently on Mercari: more than 7 million listings)
    2. Books (currently on Mercari: more than 1 million listings)
    3. Shoes (currently on Mercari: more than 8 million listings)
    4. Home decorations (currently on Mercari: more than 2 million listings)
    5. Electronics (currently on Mercari: more than 15 million listings)