Tony Abbott picks up a $300 fridge from Gumtree: Should retailers be worried about the rise of online classifieds?

Tony Abbott picks up a $300 fridge from Gumtree: Should retailers be worried about the rise of online classifieds?


The popularity of online classifieds has been catapulted into the spotlight, with the internet lapping up the story of Tony Abbott buying a second-hand fridge from Gumtree.

Abbott was ousted as prime minister after Malcolm Turnbull launched a leadership coup back in September.

Since losing the top job, the former prime minister has travelled overseas and maintained a relatively low profile – until now.

The fridge’s owner, Emily Hastings, took to Instagram and spoke to BuzzFeed about selling her Daewoo fridge to the Abbotts for $300.

The Sydney resident described Tony Abbott as “just a regular dude in a baseball cap”.

“We dealt with someone called Margie and it wasn’t until they [Tony and Margie Abbott] showed to pick it up we realised that it was the former prime minister’s wife,” Hastings said.

“She was really down-to-earth but they were definitely in a bit of a hurry. Plus, I’m pretty sure there was some security outside. It was just a regular kitchen fridge, singular-top freezer, and I think it was 320 litres. Margie said she thought the fridge would come in handy come Christmas time.”

Gumtree was founded in London in 2000 and was originally an online community aimed at connecting the wave of Australians moving to the UK.

In 2005, Gumtree was bought by eBay for an undisclosed amount.

It is the number one classifieds site in Australia as well as countries like the UK, South Africa and Singapore.

Around 2 million ads are posted on Gumtree every month.

Brian Walker, chief executive of The Retail Doctor Group, told SmartCompany retailers would be wise not to ignore popular online classified services such as Gumtree.

After all, if Gumtree is good enough for a former prime minister, then it’s good enough for the average Australian consumer looking for a bargain.

“There’s no doubt that we’re seeing through our own research this second-hand market competition with charity retail and competing with the value end of the market,” Walker says.

“What’s also interesting is this concept of people looking online. There’s this browsing component, so it’s occupying a lot more of our attention and definitely taking up a lot of op-shop retailing and lower-value retailing.”

However, Walker says while retailers should be aware of the existence of sites such as Gumtree, they shouldn’t be too worried as the market is “quite naturally segmented” at the moment.

“If we look at Gumtree, it has a very dedicated use,” Walker says.

“You’ve got Gumtree in that second-hand space, eBay positioned with alternative and clearance retailers, and then you’ve got Etsy in that curated space.”


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