When it comes to the market for used clothing, both in-store and online secondhand purchases tell a similar story: nearly 60% of Americans are uninterested in buying used clothes, a number that has been growing.
Disinterest in thrift stores has become increasingly common over the last year or so. The percentage of people who shop or show interest in shopping at thrift stores dropped significantly between October 2019 and early 2020 before plateauing into 2021.
The data tell a different story for online secondhand marketplaces like Poshmark, thredUp, and Ebay. While usage of and intent to use online resale sites hasn’t gained much ground, it hasn’t lost any either.
Usage of online resale sites is most heavily concentrated within the Gen Z age group. They are nearly 10 percentage points more likely to use these sites than Millennials and Gen Xers.
It comes as no surprise that women shop second hand more than men do. Of the 15% of people who actively buy from online clothing resale shops such as Poshmark, thredUP, and others, 65% are female and just 35% are male. And of those who noted they intend to use such sites, the gender gap gets even bigger (69% female, 31% male).
What is surprising, however, is that Americans on both ends of the income spectrum are users of online resale sites. Those with an income under $50K and those making more than $100K are equally active in the market.
And because we know that higher-income jobs are more likely to have transferred to remote work and retained their salaries, it could explain why these sites have not seen a major hit in sales since the pandemic began.
Part of what’s keeping these sites buoyant could be the people who say they are not working, getting paid, or have had their hours or pay reduced as a result of the pandemic. Americans working remotely have less reason to shop for clothing and accessories because they are home more often than not. At the same time, people who are struggling financially because of job loss or cut hours might have turned to resale sites for essentials at a lower price.
Lastly, while traditional thrift store shopping has significantly declined in recent years, there are still people who do it – mostly to save money, but also just for the thrill of it.
And chances are, if you are into thrift stores for the thrill of it, you’re four times more likely to be a user of resale sites.