Industry Statistics & Trends
Resale or retail? Can you tell the difference? Probably not! Today’s resale shops look the same as mainstream retailers... except for one big difference—they sell high quality goods at lower prices! The resale industry offers "Quality at a Savings!"
While many businesses close their doors every day, resale remains healthy and continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of retail. With new stores entering the industry and current establishments opening additional locations, the industry has experienced a growth—in number of stores—of approximately 7% a year for the past two years. This percentage reflects the estimated number of new stores opening each year, minus the businesses that close. NARTS is proud to say that future owners who look to the Association for education prior to opening, then continue their education through NARTS membership and meetings, are very successful. Many resale shops don't survive that crucial first year because the owners did not do their "homework" and had no idea where to begin or what to expect. There are currently more than 25,000 resale, consignment and Not For Profit resale shops in the United States.
Resale is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. There is a major discrepancy on annual revenues reported for the U.S. resale industry.
First Research estimates the used merchandise industry in the U.S. includes about 20,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $15 billion. The secondhand and resale market is forecast to reach about $53 billion by 2023, according to the annual forecast from thredUP, an online resale marketplace. About $27 billion accounts for resale and $26 billion accounts for traditional secondhand (thrift and donation), according to a CNBC report. The global secondhand goods market is expected to grow by 24% in 2022, according to a new thredUP survey of 3,500 U.S. adult consumers and 50 fashion retailers conducted by GlobalData. The report estimates that the U.S. secondhand market will more than double by 2026, reaching $82 billion.
Almost three-fourths of retail executives said they currently offer or are open to providing secondhand goods to their customers, an increase from 2020, the report said. Sixty-two percent of Gen Z and millennial consumers said they look for items secondhand before buying new. And almost half of Gen Z and millennial consumers (46%) consider the potential resale value of an item before purchasing it, per the report.
Changes in consumer buying habits and an influx of new competitors and investor money are enlarging and reshaping the market for used apparel. Re-commerce companies, including The RealReal, Poshmark, and thredUP, are forecast to account for about 20% of the clothing industry by 2031, according to RetailDive.
Winmark, the franchiser of resale stores Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet, Style Encore, Play It Again Sports, and Music Go Around, had 1,293 franchises in operation, as of June 2022. Winmark’s sales have been at $1 billion+/year since 2015.
They have recycled nearly 1.5 billion items since 2010.
In 2021, as donations soared and the pandemic took a bite out of foot traffic, Goodwill’s total revenue dropped 11% to $5.7 billion for their more than 3,300 stores in the US & Canada. Sales for shopgoodwill.com jumped 22% to $171 million.
The RealReal, a luxury consignment site, reported revenues of $468 million in 2021.
Add to this the many thousands of single location shops, hundreds of multi-location chains, franchises and Not For Profit stores and you begin to realize the vast scope of this continually growing industry.
Resale shopping attracts consumers from all economic levels. There is no typical resale shopper, just as there is no typical resale shop. No one is immune to the excitement of finding a treasure and saving money. Shrewd shoppers take advantage of the opportunity resale offers to save money on apparel, furniture and other consumer goods. These savings can add quality to life when used for vacations, entertainment, funding college and retirement accounts, and expanding family activities.
According to America’s Research Group, a consumer research firm, about 16 - 18% of Americans will shop at a thrift store during a given year. For consignment/resale shops, it’s about 12 - 15%. To keep these figures in perspective, consider that during the same time frame; 11.4% of Americans shop in factory outlet malls, 19.6% in apparel stores and 21.3% in major department stores.
Resale has become destination shopping with the recent industry trend of clustering. Many areas are seeing resale stores opening in close proximity to each other, taking advantage of existing traffic. Antique shops have clustered for years and factory outlet stores are grouped together, proving that consumers will travel farther to reach a group of like stores. Resalers love to make an event out of shopping in an area where they can visit a variety of resale stores with different merchandise lines.
The resale market is blossoming thanks to value and sustainable conscious consumers. As concerns over the environmental impact of fast fashion increase, consumers recognize the inherent sustainability factor of shopping resale. With an increasing awareness of the importance of reducing pointless waste, we are progressing from a disposable society to a recycling society—a change that has enormous market potential for the resale industry as a whole. After all, "Resale is the ultimate in recycling!"