Could thrift shopping be the answer to potential gift shortages this holiday?

·3-min read
Thrift gifts are likely to find a place under the tree this holiday season.

As reports suggest possible shortages of gifts this holiday season, second-hand shopping could provide an eco-responsible alternative that is both practical and economical. More and more consumers are considering thrift gifting and even say they are ready to receive a second-hand gift for the holidays -- especially in the United States, where Black Friday kicks off the festive shopping season this week.

Would you buy a second-hand gift for a loved one this holiday? Increasingly less stigmatized, second-hand shopping now seems to answer current consumer concerns as the festive season approaches. The forecast shortage of gifts -- whether it (really) happens or not -- as well as inflation, are leading shoppers to seriously consider this alternative approach to gift buying. And, contrary to popular belief, consumers are now surprisingly numerous in wanting to give, but also to receive, second-hand items.

A new study of 2,000 US consumers, carried out by GlobalData for thredUP *, reveals that shoppers are increasingly open to second-hand gifts as a way to find good deals. This observation is not unrelated to rising prices, especially in the toy industry, and supply issues that could lead to a shortage of gifts. More than one in two respondents (52%) are concerned that popular gifts will be more expensive this year, and one-third are concerned that limited supplies will make it harder to find gifts. As a result, nearly half of respondents (49%) are starting to look at alternatives, such as buying second hand.

Boosting purchasing power…

Online resale platform thredUP reported in June that there were some 33 million new second-hand shoppers in the US by 2020, indicating not just a craze for this new mode of consumption, but also a habit that's definitely no longer marginal -- or marginalized. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (62%) believe that buying used clothing and fashion gifts is more socially acceptable today than it was five years ago, and 66% even say they are open to receiving a second-hand gift.

While sustainability is the second most important reason why consumers are open to second-hand gifts today, it is price that motivates them above all. But the second-hand market also offers the possibility of finding unique gifts, in keeping with the spirit of thrift stores. While these overall results include respondents across all age groups, a closer look at the data reveals that one generation stands out in particular...

… while fighting overconsumption

As Black Friday approaches -- a shopping event that is increasingly being singled out around the world -- US consumers are also questioning the wastefulness of the holiday season, led first and foremost by Gen Z. More than one in two Gen Z consumers (52%) plan to buy an item they will only wear three times or less during the holidays. To this end, they see second-hand clothing as an ideal solution to fight against unnecessary waste.

Protecting the planet ranks first among this generation's top motivation for gifting thrift, with 64% wanting to make more sustainable purchases, while the possibility of getting a good deal comes second (62%). Moreover, Gen Z consumers are the most open to receiving a second-hand gift for the holidays (72% vs. 66% of all consumers).

"It's amazing and encouraging to see how many consumers are now open to gifting thrift. We've heard that consumers are growing tired of the waste of the holiday season, and are increasingly seeking more sustainable options that align with their values. This is particularly true of Gen Z. By choosing used for the holidays, consumers are cutting waste for both their wallets and the planet," said Erin Wallace, VP of Integrated Marketing, thredUP.

* The report is based on research and data from GlobalData, which surveyed 2,000 US adults over the age of 18, asking them specific questions about their holiday shopping behaviors and second-hand preferences. The thredUP report also leverages data from the following sources: Green Story Inc. and internal thredUP data. It was published in November 2021.

Christelle Pellissier

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