The resale apparel market, also known as the secondhand market, is expected to reach $51 billion by 2023. In fact, this market has grown 21 times faster than the retail apparel market in the past three years, according to ThredUP, a resale site, as consumers grow conscious of sustainability.
“Compared to the overall apparel market, resale’s growth has been phenomenal. As the market uniquely meets consumers’ preference for variety, value and sustainability, we expect the high growth to continue,” said Neil Saunders, Global Data Managing Director and Lead Market Analyst for ThredUP’s Resale Report.
Who’s Buying Resale Items
Shopping secondhand is more popular with women than with men. 64% of women have purchased or were willing to purchase secondhand items in 2018, up from 45% in 2016. Plus, 56 million women, or 17%, purchased secondhand goods in 2018.
26% of luxury shoppers also purchase secondhand goods and 25% of department store shoppers buy resale items. 22% of consumers who shop at value chains like Walmart or Target buy secondhand, too.
The resale market’s success is fueled by Millennials and Boomers, as these consumers make up 64% of the resale market’s audience.
But this year, one in every three Gen Zers, consumers between 18 and 24 years old, are expected to buy secondhand, driving a portion of the resale market. ThredUP reported that 18-37 year olds, Millennials and Gen Zers, are adopting secondhand apparel two-and-a-half times faster than their generational counterparts. Millennials are showing 37% growth in resale shopping, between 2017 and 2019, while Gen Zers grew 46% during the same time period.
Why Shopping Secondhand Is Growing In Popularity
Aside from the potential for discounted prices, secondhand shopping is popular with consumers as they shift their perspectives of the planet’s climate, and also because it offers more styles for less in their wardrobes.
The Sustainability Trend Rises
“Rental and pre-owned will increase as consumers regularly update looks for social media and as consumer attitudes toward ownership and sustainability change,” experts noted.
Last year, the percentage of consumers who preferred to buy from environmentally friendly brands increased to 72%, which aligns with Gen Zers’ and younger consumers’ values. Purchasing a secondhand product reduces its carbon footprint by 82%.
Plus, ThredUP reported that 59% of consumers expect retailers to produce apparel in both ethical and sustainable methods.
Secondhand Shopping Suits The Instagram Generation
With Instagram’s popularity on the rise, consumers are interested in constantly sporting new styles. In fact, more than half (56%) of consumers want to see new styles from retailers every time they visit.
“There are numerous reasons for the recent rise of resale, including environmental benefits and the desire for frequent turnover of wardrobes especially among the Instagram generation.”
How Resale Is Reshaping Retail
Secondhand shopping is directly competing with retail shopping, as 72% of secondhand shoppers already shifted spend away from traditional retailers. Secondhand apparel shopping is predicted to grow 16% by 2023, whereas traditional retail apparel is only predicted to grow 3%.
Plus, by 2028, secondhand shopping is expected to hold more market value than fast fashion, retailers who mass produce apparel quickly in response to the latest trends. On ThredUP alone, more than 576,000 fast fashion apparel items were sold last year.
By 2033, secondhand apparel is predicted to make up one-third of the average consumer’s closet. In fact, secondhand clothes, along with subscription and rental, is one of the top three fastest growing categories of apparel.
What The Growth Of Resale Means For Apparel Marketers
ThredUP reports that nearly nine in 10 retail executives want to get into the resale market by next year, as it’s appealing to consumers. Marketers should promote their apparel recycling options, if applicable, and spread the word about any resale opportunities the brand may be leveraging. As previously noted, the more environmentally cautious a brand is, the more consumers may be interested in purchasing from the brand, so sharing details about the brand’s interest in sustainable fashion can aid brand awareness and popularity. The resale market is expected to expand for other products like household appliances, furniture and tools, so marketers should prepare to a shifting market across all retail categories.
As consumer interest in secondhand shopping grows, retailers take notice and change strategies to invest in sustainable fashion.