Affluent Shoppers Embrace Second-Hand Shopping


Bargain hunting is certainly nothing new.

But with the Covid pandemic, there has been an increase in ‘thrifting’, or the buying and selling of second-hand goods.

At first, some families under financial pressure turned to second-hand shopping as a way to save. Then it became common.

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So-called recommerce grew nearly 15% in 2021 – twice as fast as the broader retail market and recording the highest growth rate in history for the industry, according to a recommerce report of 2022 by OfferUp.

Although dominated by the resale of clothing, 82% of Americans, or 272 million people, buy or sell used goods, OfferUp found, including electronics, furniture, household goods and sports equipment, as well as than clothes.

Over the next five years, recommerce is expected to grow 80% to $289 billion.

Resale Buyers Save Money, Get Exclusive Items

Certainly, most consumers are driven by value. According to a report by CouponFollow, thrift shop shoppers save nearly $150 per month, or $1,760 per year on average, by buying used items.

Saving money, however, isn’t the only driver, CouponFollow found. Shoppers have also turned to resale for other reasons, such as durability and as a way to secure hard-to-find luxury items.

Because it is considered environmentally friendly, it has also become more socially acceptable, said Brett Heffes, CEO of winmarkthe franchisor of stores like Plato’s Closet, Once Upon a Child and Play It Again Sports.

“When I started in this business, there was a stigma around buying used items, and that stigma has gone away.”

The rise of thrift and second-hand shopping

In fact, buying used is sometimes the only way to get a limited edition pair of Air Jordans or other highly coveted and exclusive items.

Part of the momentum fueling resale is the desire to access that unique item, added Wells Fargo chief executive Adam Davis, who works with retail resale businesses, whether a “Chanel handbag or Nike sneakers” – even if you end up paying more than the original retail price.

“Affluent consumers are leading the recommerce revolution”

Much of the growth was driven by younger shoppers, especially teens, Heffes said. “We sell a lot of sneakers.”

Increasingly, however, “affluent consumers are leading the recommerce revolution,” said Chris Richter, CEO of recommerce site FloorFound.

Largely driven by value and a desire to buy more sustainably, “buyers are looking to buy resale rather than new,” Richter said.

High-income consumers are even more likely to buy second-hand, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults by FloorFound: Nearly 9 in 10 shoppers earning more than $175,000 a year have purchased a resale – 14 percentage points higher than the survey average.

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