Although the pandemic’s early months shocked various industries to a screeching halt, most varieties of e-commerce surged to record profits. American consumers not only turned to online shopping to deliver essential items that the supermarket might not have in stock, but also for clothing and other non-essential goods to fill the void of closed malls and retailers.
When CivicScience last covered online used clothing merchants back in February, their profile seemed well-positioned, with half of the population shopping secondhand or intending to thrift (whether online or in a store). Awareness of Poshmark and thredUp – two of the major online resale hubs – were also resting at significant levels.
However, although awareness is high, according to CivicScience data, there’s been a general decline in interest in used clothing and accessories. Chalk it up to unease with shopping in public during a pandemic or prioritizing other goods, there’s been an incremental change since February in people who aren’t interested in thrifting.
Yet, both online marketplaces, thredUp and Poshmark, have plans to go public sometime in the next year.
Online Resale During Unprecedented Times
Those who report working as usual albeit remotely during the pandemic are the more likely group of workers to have recently used a resale site. Meanwhile those who are working reduced hours or pay (or are unemployed) as a result of the pandemic are less likely to have used a resale site, but their intention to do so is slightly higher than those whose jobs were impacted differently.
ThredUp, although only carrying women and children’s clothes at this time, seems to be more popular than the average resale site among women both working remotely as well as those dealing with reduced pay or hours. Eighteen percent of female workers who are unemployed or working reduced hours or pay have used thredUp and 15% intend to. Poshmark mostly had less users and intenders than thredUp, although those working ask usual (but not remotely) had slightly more users of thredUp.
One potential reason for this could be thredUp’s partnership with Walmart, which began selling thredUp’s used women and children’s clothing on its website in May. Users of thredUp were more likely to be favorable to Walmart.
While awareness of thredUp has only increased by 1 percentage point since last fall, it might foreshadow a business venture well-suited to weather the effects of the pandemic.
Save the Trees. And Gently-Used Apparel
Much of the appeal for online secondhand clothing shops comes from their affordability and specificity — it isn’t quite the same experience as rifling through clothing racks at a thrift store. But, as noted by CivicScience back in February, a significant percentage of environmentally conscious consumers turn to secondhand clothes as a more sustainable option, possibly in an attempt to buck extensive textile waste.
The higher-end resale options may become less feasible if consumers are increasingly jobless without relief, but affordable, sustainable online shops stand to survive an extended period of distancing and lockdown measures into the winter. The convenience of online shopping, paired with a grim outlook for brick-and-mortar clothing retailers, give services like thredUp and Poshmark steady footing into continued uncertainty.