Secondhand Clothing Market in US Grew 7x Faster Than General Clothing Retail in 2023

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Sales of secondhand clothing are on their way to making up 10 percent of the fashion market worldwide, as environmental concerns and high prices inspire consumers to shop for pre-loved items, according to a 2024 Resale Report by online thrift and consignment shop ThredUp.

The 12th annual study, conducted by analytics firm GlobalData, includes projections through 2033. Its findings are based on a survey of 3,654 consumers in the United States, as well as a survey of 50 of the country’s top fashion brands and retailers, a press release from ThredUp said.

“The global secondhand apparel market continues to burgeon — a testament to the intrinsic value shoppers find in the secondhand experience and proof of the seismic shift towards a more circular fashion ecosystem,” said ThredUp co-founder and CEO James Reinhart in the press release. “As we celebrate this progress, we also recognize the powerful role the government can play in accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future for fashion. Now in its 12th year, the Resale Report shows some of the most promising signals of what that future could look like with increased levels of support. Until fashion is no longer one of the most damaging sectors of the global economy, we will continue to advocate for the government to help drive adoption and behavior change in fashion.”

The global secondhand clothing market is outpacing the overall retail sector and is predicted to increase at a 12 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $350 billion by 2028.

The used apparel market in the U.S. outpaced the overall retail clothing market by seven times last year. By 2028, it is projected to reach $73 billion.

Within five years, the report expects to see online resale clothing more than double to $40 billion at a CAGR of 17 percent.

“Shoppers gravitate towards buying secondhand apparel online. For the first time ever, younger generations prefer buying online versus in a brick-and-mortar store,” ThredUp said.

In fact, 45 percent of younger people prefer buying secondhand clothing online, as compared to 38 percent who would rather visit a brick-and-mortar retailer.

“With more than half of all consumers shopping for secondhand apparel last year, it’s evident that resale is now firmly embedded in the fashion landscape. Secondhand buying transcends generations, with the role of resale changing throughout consumers’ lives. Younger shoppers turn to secondhand for self-expression and to help create their personal style; parents rely on secondhand to outfit their families in a cost-effective and eco-conscious way; and older generations turn to secondhand to snag affordable, higher-end brands and for the thrill of the hunt,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, in the press release. “Secondhand’s flexibility in meeting such varied needs is a key reason it’s become so popular and has such a promising growth trajectory.”

Nearly two out of three consumers who bought secondhand last year made at least one online purchase — a 17 point increase from the year before.

“Nearly 3 in 4 consumers say when it comes to apparel spend, value is king,” the press release said. While “60% of consumers say shopping secondhand apparel gives them the most bang for their buck” and “55% of consumers say they’ll spend more on secondhand apparel if the economy doesn’t improve.”

ThredUp’s Recommerce 100 said the 163 brands that now offer resale shops — including J. Crew and American Eagle — represent a 31 percent increase from 2022.

Where resale is offered, it will generate a minimum of 10 percent of a company’s overall revenue within five years, according to almost two out of three retail executives, the report said.

Most retail executives — 87 percent — who offer resale said it has furthered their sustainability goals.

More than a third of consumers said they purchase second hand to be able to afford higher-end brands — an increase of 11 points from 2022.

Voters expressed their support of candidates who support a circular fashion economy, with 42 percent of consumers saying the government needs to take legislative action to promote sustainable fashion.

Reinhart said upcoming legislation designed to curb fast fashion globally was inspiring brands to take action, reported The Guardian.

“It is hard not to believe that there will be some activity in that space in the next three to five years given how much of apparel ends up in landfill,” Reinhart said, as The Guardian reported.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

Like MediaFeed's content? Be sure to follow us.