First came Black Friday. Finally Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday arrived. But what about the Sunday after Thanksgiving? Online marketplace Poshmark has the answer: Second Sunday, a new holiday dedicated to supporting “second-hand sellers, circular fashion and the planet.” Poshmark is calling on people to shop used instead of new on November 27 and share their finds on social media with the hashtag #SecondSunday.
While this new holiday has yet to develop into a true social movement, it’s another example of how attitudes about secondhand shopping are evolving. No longer is “buying” something done for its own sake. It’s an opportunity to buy unique and high-quality gifts for others in a sustainable and affordable way.
Call it what you will – thrift shopping, thrifting, cycling, vintage hunting and so on – but consumers are buying pre-owned clothes, shoes and accessories in record numbers. And the trend is expected to continue throughout the 2022 holiday retail season.
The impact of inflation
According to a September survey by Deloitte, the two most popular reasons people gave for repurposing this holiday season were “to save money in general” and “to buy a little something nice.” This year, with everything from utilities to groceries, many consumers are looking to cut costs any way they can, and buying used is one way to stretch budgets even further.
According to the same survey, clothing is the most popular gift category this holiday season, with more than half of respondents saying they are more likely to buy used clothing.
“Certified pre-owned” fashion
In response to this demand, many traditional fashion retailers are entering the direct-to-sale market. In a Deloitte survey, 48 percent of retail executives said their companies “plan to sell refurbished/used products this holiday season.”
Sites like Poshmark make money by charging a commission for every transaction that individuals make on an online platform. What many fashion brands are doing now, however, is selling pre-owned merchandise directly to consumers, as they do with new products. This process is often referred to as “Resale as a Service” (RaaS). RaaS programs are often likened to “Certified Pre-Owned” programs run by car companies. Both new and used goods are sold in a co-branded retail setting (in person or online), and customers can be assured that used goods have passed quality checks before being resold.
ThredUp reports that the number of fashion brands with RaaS programs has grown by 300 percent this year versus 2021. Some of the big players who entered the field included Tommy Hilfiger, Athleta, Paxun and Vera Bradley.
As more sustainability-focused (as opposed to fast fashion) brands enter the RaaS space, the hope is that the stigma of “buying used” will disappear and consumers will look to resale first when looking for the perfect gift.
Millennials and Gen Z: Second-level marketing will become second nature.
For many consumers in their twenties and thirties, second-hand shopping is part of their daily routine. PwC reports that 53 percent of millennials include resale or used items on their holiday shopping list, compared to 37 percent of consumers of all ages. (Specific numbers for Gen Z were not available.)
Michelle Childs, an associate professor of retail business and management at the University of Tennessee, told TriplePundit that Millennial and Gen Z consumers are motivated by their “concern and awareness of the environmental and social impact of the consumption process.” If their purchases and values are adjusted, to think ahead: ‘Will this item end up in the landfill after a few wears?’ or ‘Was this shirt made under less than ideal conditions?’ They really care about the impact.
Another important factor – especially for Gen Z – is when it comes to buying second-hand fashion, both for themselves and others? Difference.
“Gen Z-ers have more disposable income than previous generations. They’re usually willing to pay more for second-hand goods,” Childs said. “Before, you used to buy just because you couldn’t afford to buy new. Now, you can be unique. Gen Z consumers engage in trends but also want those one-of-a-kind finds. Secondhand shopping – especially vintage fashion – is helping the planet by combining both of these ambitions.
Image credit: Hannah Morgan/Anserafa