There is a disconnect between consumers open to receiving secondhand gifts and consumers who are comfortable giving secondhand items as gifts, said Steven Tristan Young, chief marketing officer at Poshmark, an online resale marketplace.
92% of Poshmark marketplace members are open to receiving secondhand gifts — but only 33% of people would shop secondhand for their gift-giving needs today, according to the 2022 Poshmark Trend Report: Holiday Edition. Research company Morning Consult conducted a survey based on Poshmark’s 80 million members comparing Sept. 11-18, 2022, with the same period in 2021.
“There is a gap between what we think our friends and family are open to receiving versus what they actually want,” Young said. “A great way to overcome that is to talk about secondhand gifting with loved ones.”
Younger shoppers are more open to secondhand gifts, according to the report. 55% of Gen Z consumers said they are likely to buy secondhand gifts for their friends and loved ones this holiday season.
Consumer perception of gifting pre-owned merchandise is changing. Secondhand merchants are working to make it easier to shop for used products online. Poshmark launched a sale for the first time during the Cyber 5 period, and online consignment store ThredUp debuted a secondhand holiday collection for the first time.
Plus, apparel merchant Patagonia reported record web traffic when it promoted its secondhand collection on Cyber Monday. Browser extension Beni continues to add resale merchants to its client roster as demand for an easier way to search grows. And luxury goods reseller Rebag said shopper demand is booming for hard-to-find brands. But, while resale continues to grow as an online category, a lingering reluctance to gift used merchandise continues.
Resale’s lower price point appeals to a budget-conscious consumer
Currently, buying used is not a top choice for consumers. 9% of survey respondents said they shop secondhand for apparel, accessories or shoes online on sites like Poshmark, ThredUp, The RealReal and others, according to a Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights survey which compared 1,064 online apparel shoppers in Sept. 2022 and 1,049 respondents in May 2021. That’s up 1 percentage point compared with 2021 when 8% said they shopped for secondhand apparel online.
But the reluctance to buy secondhand is changing, says Liza Amlani, principal and founder of The Merchant Life, a retail consultancy. Consumers are spending but want to stretch their dollar and spend less overall, she says.
“Resale is becoming more of a giftable option due to price point accessibility,” Amlani says.
Consumers are also increasingly interested in sustainable products, especially younger consumers who are already shopping and selling on Poshmark or ThredUp, Amlani says.
43% of shoppers noted sustainability as a deciding factor in what they buy, according to luxury goods resale marketplace The RealReal’s 2022 Luxury Resale Report, which measured data from 28 million of its shoppers between January and June this year compared with the same period in 2021.
Resale is growing in popularity both in the U.S. and worldwide, according to the 2022 ThredUp resale report. ThredUp projects total U.S. secondhand sales, which include resale, traditional thrift and donations, will more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion, according to the report. The report is based on a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers in January 2022. Resale alone is expected to reach $51 billion by 2026.
In 2021, resale sales grew 58% year over year, the highest in five years, according to the report.
Secondhand Sunday and secondhand fashion lines
Poshmark launched the event Secondhand Sunday on Nov. 27, 2022, to encourage shoppers to buy secondhand products. This was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Poshmark created a separate landing page on its website. It included a video, resale statistics, Poshmark seller profiles, and links directing shoppers to resources. A Poshmark Instagram post noted holiday promotional dates, the holiday trend report, and an explanation of how the reselling process works.
Poshmark recorded a 29.7% increase in the number of listings sold for vintage items between Nov. 24-27, 2022, compared with Nov. 25-28, 2021. The number of toy listings increased 50.3% during the same timeframe year over year.
According to Morning Consult data, vintage items, books, home items, jewelry/watches, furniture, and luxury items are top categories consumers are open to receiving as secondhand gifts, Young said. Men are more open to receiving resale electronics, while secondhand shoes are popular among younger shoppers, he said.
Resale for the holidays
While Poshmark does not ask shoppers if something is a gift, Young said the merchant does pay attention to categories that are known for being popular gift items, such as handbags, jewelry and toys.
“When we see notable increases in these ‘gift-friendly’ categories, we attribute some of that to holiday gift shopping,” Young said.
In 2022, handbags and vintage item listings increased 12.2% during the Thanksgiving through Sunday holiday weekend. Used book listings also increased 12.8% year over year, Young said.
ThredUp promoted its holiday Zero Waste Daniel Full Circle collection, which is made entirely of secondhand 1990s-inspired clothing. The resale marketplace featured actress Fran Drescher to bring the “trash-to-treasure” collection, promoting gift-giving on a budget. Prices start at $10. Most items fall into a $20-$60 range and as high as $600 for items like coats. ThredUp did not disclose how the sale performed.
An easier way to search resale
Another way to promote online resale shopping is to make it easier for shoppers to find used products, says Beni CEO and cofounder Sarah Pinner. Demand is growing for startup Beni’s browser plugin, which shows shoppers resale products in real time based on the consumer’s web browser search, she says.
“I think [the concept of resale] is hitting a bit of a tipping point where there’s less stigma around shopping secondhand for the holidays,” Pinner says.
Currently, approximately 4,000 consumers use Beni to shop for secondhand goods online. The web browser extension is available for desktop Safari and Google Chrome. The plugin is also available for Safari on mobile devices.
If a consumer has the Beni plugin on her web browser and she is looking for a black dress on any apparel site, like Macys.com, Beni will display similar secondhand options at the top of the webpage from more than 30 resale sites. If a shopper clicks on one of the items, she is then redirected to that reseller. Beni earns an undisclosed commission on each sale.
“Our goal is to build [Beni] together with the resale marketplaces that have done a lot of the heavy lifting to get all this amazing inventory online,” Pinner says. “Our goal is to make buying resale as easy as buying new.”
By simplifying the resale product search process, Beni hopes to normalize shopping for secondhand merchandise, Pinner says.
Patagonia joins Beni
In December, Patagonia began its pilot test run with Beni. Beni sells used products from the retailer’s online Worn Wear store.
“We’re going to see if [selling through Beni] is a way to bring awareness to our reused goods,” says Asha Agrawal, head of corporate development at Patagonia.
The outdoor apparel and goods retailer is looking at different ways to market its secondhand products beyond using the Patagonia brand, such as via the Beni platform, Agrawal says.
But it’s also using the power of its well-established Patagonia brand. Patagonia typically refrains from promoting its brand during the holidays. But on Cyber Monday, Patagonia.com redirected shoppers to the retailer’s resale Worn Wear website. Patagonia offered shoppers a 20% discount on anything purchased through its resale online store.
The event was a success, Agrawal says. Cyber Monday 2022 was the Worn Wear website’s second most popular web traffic day since the Worn Wear online store launched in 2020. In 2020, Patagonia.com shoppers could click on a button located on Patagonia’s main website landing page that led to the Worn Wear store. 2022’s strategy automatically redirected web traffic to Patagonia.com to www.wornwear.patagonia.com.
This year, 70% of all Worn Wear Cyber Monday online sales were from first-time customers, Agrawal says.
Resale is an opportunity to buy hard-to-find products
Shoppers on the hunt for “unicorn” items — sold out, hard-to-find luxury handbags or accessories — can turn to Rebag, a luxury reseller of handbags and accessories. In this case, resale doesn’t always mean reduced price.
The reseller prepared for the holidays earlier this year and launched its 2022 gift suite in late October instead of November, said Charles Gorra, founder and CEO of Rebag.
“Given that each item in Rebag’s inventory is unique, and many styles are limited edition, sold out in the primary market or generally difficult to obtain, we typically see shoppers looking to procure gifts early on,” Gorra said, without revealing more.
Rebag’s holiday Gift Suite gives shoppers options
Rebag’s 2022 holiday Gift Suite gives shoppers a range of categories to choose from. This includes “investment pieces” like the Hermes Constance Bag Epsom 24, a used handbag in “great” condition for $15,170. The retail price for the new product was $11,400 in 2022.
Shoppers also have the option to buy and sell in one transaction through Rebag’s Trade program. Rebag sellers can bank the money from sold items to use toward other Rebag purchases.
Shoppers search Rebag for rare items like Telfar-brand handbags. These can cost $200-$320 when purchased new. Certain styles can cost more than $900 on resale sites for coveted styles like the Telfar Round Circle Bag. These bags have an average value retention of 195% because demand outweighs supply, Gorra said. These items appreciate about twice as much as their original retail price because they are in high demand.
“With limited drops, it can be next to impossible to score a Telfar bag on the primary market in the size and color you want,” Gorra said.
While not currently mainstream, resale growth will continue. As more brands launch into resale, consumers will have more opportunities to shop secondhand. Resale merchants hope that by appealing to consumers’ waning budgets and increased interest in sustainability, the stigma associated with secondhand shopping will dissipate and become commonplace.
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