Is The Future Of Retail Going To Be Secondhand?

Resale is on the rise. In fact, the secondhand market has grown 21 times faster than the new apparel market in the last three years.

Let’s take a look at some numbers:

64% of women are now open to buying used clothing and other items, up from 45 percent in 2016. 

Secondhand is expected to make up 13% of people’s closets by 2028. That might not sound like a lot to avid thrifters, but that’s up from 3% in 2008. 

Millennials and Gen Z are driving that growth, with 1 in 3 Gen Zers expected to buy secondhand in 2019.

The hashtag #thrift yields millions of results on TikTok and Instagram.

What’s causing this shift in mindset and shopping habits?

The rise of the conscious consumer

Consumers, especially young shoppers have become increasingly more concerned for the environment and favoring sustainable brands.

Thrift is more accessible than ever

Secondhand shopping has come a long way.  From traditional retail stores to highly curated vintage shops, to rental sites, luxury resale sites, Instagram shops, Facebook Marketplace, and resale apps – it’s become more accessible than ever. There’s a thrift “flavor” for everyone.

Influencer culture fuels our fashion choices

The days of major department stores and catalogs influencing what we wear and buy are nearly gone. Social media is leading the charge in influencing our fashion choices.

Secondhand satisfies the Instagram generation

Secondhand satisfies one of the biggest demands of the Instagram generation: not being seen in the same outfit twice. Many young people admit they won’t be seen in the same outfit twice online. Secondhand is one way young people can stay current without breaking the bank or harming the environment by buying new. 

Clothes as “tradable assets”

More consumers are buying with the intent to resell after they’ve used the item, which influences buying decisions.

And brands are listening. 

Over the last couple of years, major brands and department stores have been closing and filing for bankruptcy. Many before the pandemic, and for some the pandemic was the final push toward closing their doors.

JC Penney, J. Crew, Bath and Body Works, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Neiman Marcus are just a few that have either filed for bankruptcy or closed hundreds of stores across the United States in recent months. 

Many of these stores, including JCP, Macy’s Madewell, Nordstrom Rack, and the GAP have implemented programs or experimented with the idea of selling secondhand to attract new customers.

So how does this work?

If you’re picturing buyers from Macy’s going out to your local Goodwill to snatch up merchandise for their store, don’t worry, that’s not the case.  Most of them have been teaming up with thredUp to sell secondhand clothes. 

Madewell for example, teamed up with thredUp to offer Madewell Archive in select cities across the United States where you can buy preowned Madewell jeans.

Macy’s and JCP both experimented with thredUP pop up in select stores and sell brands that aren’t typically sold at their stores, in order to attract new and possibly younger customers. 

Some brands are offering their own secondhand apparel such as Norstrom Rack’s See You Tomorrow line, where customers can purchase and sell back their preowned clothes in exchange for store credit.

Secondhand is pushing the limits of how and where it will be sold. How will the integrity of thrift and resale be maintained? What will this mean for the thrift industry? How will we adapt as this becomes the new way of shopping? Tune into the podcast and let us know your thoughts.

thredUP and GlobalData Resale Report

Madewell Archive resale shop

JC Penney Partners with thredUP in New Business Model Expansion (JCP)

Old clothes, new customers: Nordstrom becomes latest big retailer to sell secondhand items (Washington Post)

Nordstrom Rack’s preowned See You Tomorrow resale shop

The Rise of the Resale Market (CO)

Secondhand Could Supplant Fast Fashion in a Decade, ThredUp & The RealReal Are Leading the Way (Forbes)

Victoria’s Secret to close about 250 stores in the U.S. and Canada, Bath & Body Works to close 50 (USA Today)

Thanks, it’s Thrifted is a celebration of thrifting and the bond it created between two treasure-hunting friends. This monthly podcast is hosted by Dina and Shannon, two lifelong thrifters who are committed to sharing the cost, creative, and environmental benefits of secondhand shopping.

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