Image for Roll up for the great resale retail rush: the rise and rise of secondhand shopping

Roll up for the great resale retail rush: the rise and rise of secondhand shopping

Thrift, preloved, retro or vintage. Call it what you will, it’s a multibillion-pound marketplace – and going from strength to strength

Thrift, preloved, retro or vintage. Call it what you will, it’s a multibillion-pound marketplace – and going from strength to strength

Thrift shopping, buying preloved, retro or vintage. Call it what you will, it’s a multibillion-pound marketplace – and it’s booming online amid the cost of living squeeze and an increasing awareness of spending sustainably. 

Analysis by US-based re-commerce site ThredUp has suggested the global clothes resale market alone is set to almost double by 2027 to a whopping $350bn (£280bn).

Meanwhile 2023 saw eBay launch its ‘certified by brand’ programme to encourage brands to up their game in the secondary luxury goods market. 

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And in London, Amazon partnered with the children’s charity Barnado’s to open its first Second Chance pop-up shop after seeing an uptick in online sales of used goods, now worth around £1bn ($1.26bn) a year to the company in Europe and the UK.

“People are particularly price sensitive at the moment, and secondhand goods offer the opportunity to get top quality products at slightly more reasonable prices, while retailers are increasingly prioritising sustainability,” said British Retail Consortium (BRC) economist Harvir Dhillon. 

Amazon’s secondhand sales grew by 15% in the first nine months of 2023. Vinted’s revenue was up by over 50% for 2022 and Depop reported an 8% rise for the same period. 

Secondhand shopping was always a Gen Z thing but it’s broadened out significantly

The BRC suggested the trend is set to continue, even with an economic recovery and a growth in real wages as shoppers make ethical rather than financial decisions to buy secondhand. 

Nicola Gleave set up resale site Worn by Us eight years ago and said that alongside an increase in sales she’s seen a demographic shift. “It was always a Gen Z thing but it’s broadened out significantly,” said Gleave. “It’s across the age ranges now and we see a lot more men buying too.

“People wanting to make money out of their wardrobes has brought a quality and diversity to the market and opened up a whole new audience. At the same time perceptions around secondhand have changed – people know they can buy quality goods at bargain prices.”

The facts:
  • $ 350 bn

    The global clothes resale market may be worth $350bn by 2027
  • 140 %

    eBay searches for used furniture are growing 140% a year
  • 64 %

    64% of Gen Z-ers look for used before buying new

Main image: ArtMarie/iStock

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