May 17, 2022 - Economy

Thrifting is the new normal

Percentage who say they have bought or are willing to buy secondhand products
Data: GlobalData via ThredUP; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Buying secondhand is no longer an afterthought. 

Driving the news: 93% of shoppers in the U.S. have or are open to buying secondhand products, according to a new report from resale platform ThredUP out this morning.

  • That’s up from 70% in 2019.

Why it matters: We’ve grown increasingly aware of our consumption habits — particularly the youngest consumers among us — and are living in a period of high inflation which has us questioning our purchase decisions. 

Details: Nearly 2 in 3 people believe their individual buying habits have a significant impact on the planet, according to a survey of 3,500 U.S. adults. 

  • 82% of respondents said they feel a positive emotion when they buy used.
  • 74% said preowned apparel is more socially acceptable now than it was five years ago. 

Yes, but: Saving money is the top reason people buy secondhand over new — across all age groups — the study found.

  • Among Gen Z, sustainability is the second top motivator.
  • For average consumers, being able to afford higher-end brands is the second leading motivator.

The big picture: E-commerce technology has matured so much over the past few years that it’s helped to increase the availability of used clothing around the world, whether that’s through dedicated platforms like ThredUP, Poshmark, The RealReal or a closet-sharing service like Tulerie. 

What to watch: Big legacy brands are building more ways to resell their own products. 

  • Doing so not only helps companies like Oscar de la Renta and Levi’s retain customers, but it also adds a new stream of revenue to their business by taking back what a resale platform may have made on their products. 
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