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The term refers to the selling of items from a car's boot. Although a small proportion of sellers are professional traders selling goods, or indeed browsing for items to sell, the goods on sale are often used but no longer wanted personal possessions. Car boot sales are a way of focusing a large group of people in one place to recycle still useful but unwanted domestic items that previously might have been thrown away. Car boot sales generally take place within the summer months, however a growing trend of indoor boot sales and all year hard-standing outdoor boot sales are now appearing in some parts of the UK. Items sold can include antiques and collectables, anything in fact that the person wishes to sell, rather like a flea market. Car boot sales are also very popular in parts of Australia, and have a growing presence in mainland Europe.
Car boot sales are often but not exclusively held in the grounds of schools and other community buildings, or in grassed fields or car parks. Usually they take place on a weekend, usually Sundays. Sellers will typically pay a nominal fee for their pitch, and arrive with their goods in the boot of their car, hence the name. Usually the items are then unpacked onto folding trestle tables, a blanket or tarpaulin, or the ground. Entry to the general public is usually free, although sometimes a small admission charge is made. Advertised opening times are often not strictly adhered to, and in many cases the nature of the venue itself makes it impossible to prevent keen bargain hunters from wandering in as soon as the first stallholders arrive.
Father Harry Clarke, a Catholic priest from Stockport first introduced the car boot sale to the UK after seeing a similar event being held in Canada while on holiday there in the early 1970s. Car boot sales now happen regularly across the UK every weekend of the year.
Online car boot sales 
In recent years various online car boot sales websites have been formed on the Internet. These tend to be very popular during the winter months when normal outside car boot sales do not take place.
Guarantees are rarely sought or given at car boot sales and electrical items can rarely be tested at the sale site. Although tracing a seller can be difficult, in the UK they are still obliged to abide by the Trade Descriptions Act.