The shift to savings: COVID-19 drives a growing second-hand clothing market

Younger sustainability-minded shoppers and bargain-hunting consumers of all ages who feel the economic pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic are increasingly giving up new clothing for resale items that sometimes still have their labels .

In fact, according to thredUP, a leading online second-hand shopping site, an increase in resale demand, a $ 28 billion market was already well under way long before the pandemic crisis. The resale market is projected to reach $ 64 billion in five years.

“We were already beginning to see a generation of reselling, emerging players and a growing market, even with [luxury resaler] RealReal goes public. What happened was that COVID-19 gave it a good point, ”said thredUP CEO James Reinhart.

Related:New public second-hand luxury retailer RealReal says it takes up “space of one”

With the pandemic shutting down much of the economy, “the consumer felt that their wallets could be squeezed and moved to value,” Reinhart said. “The same thing happened with [the financial crisis of] 2008-2009. And certainly some consumers are buying second-hand for the first time during COVID. There are great dislocations, great changes, new experiences, the world upside down. “

The flow of clothing to the secondary market was also stronger as home consumers cleaned out the closets and sold what they no longer wanted.

For resale, the crisis “accelerated what was already going to be true in the coming years,” Reinhart added.

About 70% of consumers say they are now open to buying second-hand products, and 64 million bought second-hand products last year, says thredUp in its 2020 Resale Report, created with the help of research firm and GlobalData analysis. Reselling grew 25 times faster than the new retail in 2019, a trend that traditional non-ignore retailers linking to resellers don’t ignore.

Among them, Walmart Inc. WMT,
He said last month that he has partnered with ThredUp to bring second-hand clothing and a variety of new brands to the Walmart website. Macy’s Inc. M,
+ 0.98%
and JC Penney Co. Inc. JCP,
They have also added second-hand clothing to their products, and major retailers have begun to focus on recycling and other sustainability measures.

However, the resale market has not fully survived the pandemic unscathed. RealReal REAL,
+ 2.83%
In April, he said that in response to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he reduced his overall workforce by 10% and laid off approximately 15% of his staff, as he temporarily closed his luxury stores and consignment offices. .

Leaving aside the movements of the upper end of the market, players in space generally remain optimistic about what is expected this year and in the coming ones.

Select the report results:

Reselling prevents “COVID retail drop” as shoppers trade from home: thredUP saw increased activity during the shutdown, with record visitors to the site in May. Those visitors spent 37% more “time on site” searching for treasure than before COVID.

Second-hand online will grow 27% in 2020, while the overall retail sector will shrink 23%.

Shoppers are buying second-hand more than ever: 70% of women have or are willing to buy second-hand, and 62 million women bought second-hand goods last year (compared to 56 million in 2018).

As fast fashion falls, the second hand skyrockets: Reselling is expected to be bigger than fast fashion by 2029, with a projected resale at $ 44 billion and fast fashion at $ 43 billion. Fast fashion is the industry term for the timely adoption of runway trends in the mass market.

Consumers want green sales practices: 70% of all consumers agree that tackling climate change is more important now than ever. Almost 2.5 times as many consumers plan to shift their spending to sustainable brands from 18% in 2018 to 43% in 2019. Eco-brands like Patagonia and Allbirds are generating 57% more interest in thredUP since COVID-19.

In 10 years, the wardrobes will have more used clothes and out of price than any other category. About 67% of people who have not done so are willing to resell their clothes, as it is easier to do so, with more points of sale. Some brands (in the box below) considered perennial resale favorites.