Thrift Shopping: 61% of Americans Are Now Shopping For Secondhand Items Online

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It’s no secret that when businesses face higher operating costs, they respond by raising their own prices to maintain their margins and keep churning out profits. That’s what most retailers have done this year to deal with rising inflation, leaving consumers stuck with the highest prices in four decades. Now many consumers are fighting back by bypassing traditional retailers and buying used items on secondhand sites, otherwise known as “recommerce” sites.

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Americans now spend as much time shopping recommerce online as they do browsing social media, according to a new report from OfferUp, an online resale marketplace.

The report, conducted in partnership with GlobalData and based on a May 2022 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, found that 61% of respondents choose to shop secondhand via online recommerce marketplaces. More than half (58%) plan to increase buying and selling secondhand over the next year or so, and nearly all of them – 93% — cited inflation as the reason.

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Secondhand commerce had already been on the rise even before consumer prices started skyrocketing, but much of the growth involved apparel. Today, popular categories include everything from home goods to auto parts. An estimated 272 million Americans now buy and/or sell secondhand.

“While recommerce has become popular in culture with its use for clothing resale, our research found that 76% of items bought and sold pre-owned are not apparel and instead fall into the categories of electronics, furniture, home goods, home improvement, sporting goods, outdoor equipment and auto parts,” OfferUp CEO Todd Dunlap said in the report.

This year’s rise in secondhand commerce is tied to inflation on a couple of fronts, according to Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail.

“On the buyer front, more people are turning to secondhand as a way to save money when prices are high,” Saunders told CNN. “And more people are selling their used goods to make a bit of extra money. So, inflation is widening the number of people involved in the resale market and expanding the number of items available.”

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Numerous sites are available to buy and sell used goods, with the most prominent being major e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. But there are plenty of other options as well. Most make it quick and simple to access items and complete transactions.

For secondhand clothes, some of the leading sites cited by Sustainability Magazine include Depop, which lets you buy items via PayPal; Build a Bundle, which specializes in children’s clothing; and Vinted, which boasts a large community of around 45 million users.

For secondhand furniture, the Home Stratosphere website’s recommendations include Amazon as well as Kaiyo, where you can find high-end furniture; and 1st Dibs, which offers a wide selection of antique and modern furniture.

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Consumers who want to buy secondhand electronics online can find good deals on major sites such as Amazon, Best Buy and Decluttr, according to the LifeWire website.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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