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Clothing resale thrives despite economic downturn

By Robyn Turk


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The clothing resale market is thriving, despite the economic shift caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ThredUp. Natalie Tomlin, a spokesperson for the popular resale platform, told FashionUnited that, “while resale isn’t immune to these downturns, we’ve seen before that when times are tough, resale tends to thrive.”

She explained that consumers are now turning to secondhand “as a responsible choice during a time when many are looking to stretch their dollars further,” which in some ways gives resale retailers an upper hand. As the economy takes a dip, value becomes a higher priority for the majority of shoppers.

Tomlin also noted that resale platforms such as ThredUp have another advantage to traditional retailers: an independent supply chain.

“ThredUp has a uniquely flexible supply chain independent of the factories, overseas production and seasonal deliveries that traditional retail depends on,” Tomlin said. This allows business to continue as usual as far as maintaining inventory and connecting consumers with online orders.

Though resale business might not be greatly impacted, it is clear that consumer interests in clothing have begun to evolve. ThredUp has seen an increase in activity among its most active shoppers, though the items they are shopping for are different from before. Purchases of loungewear and blouses are on the rise, with sales of leggings up by over 100 percent in a two-week period, compared to the last two weeks of February. Blouse and top sales have increased by 30 in the same time frame. On the other hand, styles such as blazers and cocktail dresses have decreased in popularity compared to sales data from before COVID-19.

“Early indications show consumers are increasingly cleaning out and shopping secondhand, and we anticipate that more consumers will shift to thrift in a post-COVID world,” Tomlin noted.

ThredUp responds to economic challenges with initiatives designed to help others

The resale platform is responding to challenges through new initiatives that help its consumers and the community as a whole. It has launched three new programs that benefit Feeding America, including a sustainable secondhand shop created in partnership with Reformation, a promotion for its Donation Bags that gives 15 dollars to Feeding America for each bag purchased and a puzzle pop-up that allows people to sell puzzles to benefit Feeding America.

“While these initiatives are new to ThredUp, ThredUp is no stranger to business pivots,” Tomlin said. “ThredUp was founded on the heels of the last financial crisis in 2009 and the business was built to adapt to the ever-evolving needs of the consumer.”

Image: courtesy of ThredUp

Clothing Resale