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The resale apparel market is set to soar

BI Intelligence

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The resale apparel market is projected to be worth $41 billion by 2022, up from $20 billion in 2017, according to a report from thredUP, a resale retailer.

This jump is based on the report’s expectation of 15% annual growth between 2017 and 2022, which significantly outpaces the 2% annual growth it projects for total retail in that same period. thredUP also estimates that resale apparel will account for 10% of total retail sales by 2022, up from less than 6% a year ago.

Thrift clothing has been replacing other apparel in shoppers’ wardrobes, and that trend is expected to continue. Among consumers who have apparel from resale retailers, the percentage of thrift items in their closets jumped from 11% to 24% between 2012 and 2017. thredUp projects that percentage to reach 40% on average in 2022, likely because these shoppers plan on doubling the amount of thrift clothing they buy in the next five years.

Meanwhile, resale items went from making up 3% of all consumers’ wardrobes in 2007 to 6% in 2017. thredUP expects that number to reach 11% in the next 10 years, at which point resale items will have a bigger share of closet space than fast fashion or department stores; 71% of consumers plan to spend more on resale shopping in the next five years, which is more than any other apparel category.

Consumers are spending more on resale fashion because of its low prices and consistent flow of new arrivals.

  • Half of thredUP consumers moved their spending from off-price retailers to resale merchants. That’s likely because thrift sites offer low prices, similar to TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but may have better brands and online shopping experiences.
  • The majority of resale shoppers (62%) switched to the channel because of the constant new arrivals. Online thrift sites can frequently refresh their product selection and use their websites to make product discovery easy, resulting in a treasure hunting experience that can be exciting for consumers.

The report also suggests that Amazon’s apparel business will grow going forward, further increasing its threat to all kinds of apparel retailers. Amazon is already successfully stealing apparel sales away from the likes of Target and Macy’s, and 43% of consumers plan to spend more on apparel from Amazon in the next five years, more than any segment outside of resale.

With Amazon offering 9.9 million unique apparel items, nearly six times as many products as thredUP, the e-commerce titan’s massive product selection may attract more consumers. And with its ability to offer low prices, Amazon might be able to make a splash in resale apparel if it chooses to invest in the area.

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