Online thredUP store has released its tenth annual resale report. The study, which assesses trends in the second-hand clothing industry, has a distinctly positive tone. Resale is booming in the United States, as well as around the world, and the domestic used market is expected to more than double by 2026, reaching an impressive valuation of $82 billion.
This is serious growth that indicates a real shift in the way people approach clothing shopping. For most, it’s a way to save money in an inflationary economy. Forty-four percent of shoppers say they are cutting back on clothing purchases, more than any other category except restaurants. Some say the opportunity allows them to continue enjoying the brands they love.
When choosing what to buy, people are becoming more savvy about what can be resold. More than a fifth of Gen Z shoppers said they would pay more for an item they know they can resell, and 36% of Gen Z shoppers stock and purge their closets at the same monthly or weekly rate. More than half of the clothes sold last year.
It’s a much healthier attitude than hoarding outdated or ill-fitting items in a closet just because you paid a lot for them or once loved them. As resale becomes more accessible through mobile technology and online platforms, more and more customers want to flip their closets. It fuels the industry and keeps the market full of new discoveries, bringing people back for more.
Secondhand helps alleviate people’s climate-related concerns. Saving is much better for the environment than buying new. As thredUP reported in 2021, buying second-hand reduces an item’s carbon footprint by 82%. Choosing used over new displaces 17.4 pounds of CO2 emissions. It requires far less water and energy to produce, and it saves this item from going to landfill, where it will decompose and emit methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2. The 2022 report estimates that second-hand purchases made in the last year replaced nearly a billion items that would otherwise have been purchased new.
Aja Barber, author of “Consumed: The Need for Collective Change”, is quoted in the report:
“At the rate at which the fashion industry produces clothes, it is crucial that resale becomes a key part of people’s way of life. The choice to embrace reuse is not always easy when we are faced with endless options, many of which encourage the purchase of cheap, disposable fashion, but the rise of online resale allows citizens to make different choices and to do so with pride and joy.”
It’s interesting to see how quickly resale is being accepted and embraced by mainstream fashion retailers. The number of brands with “pre-loved” stores has increased by 275% since 2020. These companies are responding to consumer demand to appear more sustainable. Eventually they find that it has a real, positive impact on revenue, with 88% of retail executives saying it helps drive sales.
It’s great to hear such positive news. Thrift is a no-brainer, when you think about it – well-made, beautiful fashion that helps the planet while saving us money. The more mainstream this becomes, the better off we will all be.
Read the full report here.