Getting rid of that ugly sweater your mom bought you for Christmas has never been so easy, now that thrift sites are emerging as an easy way to pawn off presents for a quick buck.
According to a report by resale thrift service ThredUp, shoppers are selling significantly more never-before-worn items during November through January than the rest of the year. Last year, the company received more than 2 million items over the holidays — 200,000 of which still had tags on, 34 percent higher than the average rate for new product arrivals. Karen Clark, head of marketing and communications at ThredUp, said she expects this number to increase during the 2017 holiday season, thanks to the addition of luxury pieces to its inventory through the recently launched ThredUp Luxe.
Clark said the uptick can, in large part, be attributed to a desire for convenience: Customers want to avoid having to travel to multiple stores or ship packages back to numerous locations. As a result, requests for a ThredUp “Clean Up Bag” — what users use to send their unwanted items — spiked by 14 percent in the week before Christmas last year, and then by 59 percent the week of Christmas.
In the report, ThredUp analyzed the types of new products it received, and never-worn denim reigned supreme. Express jeans, for example, saw a 250 percent increase in inventory, while True Religion increased by 155 percent during the 2016 holiday season. Other popular items included North Face fleeces, Under Armour shorts and Nike activewear.
The company also examined which brands and styles had “the highest rate of regret.” Simple styles were resold the least, while fashion-forward items like off-the-shoulder tops were more popular. On the brand side, ThredUp saw a 46-percent increase of Missguided items with tags, followed by Eva Mendes by New York & Company and Lilly Pulitzer for Target. The brand with the least amount of new products put on resale was Everlane, with just three.
Jason Goldberg, svp of commerce and content at Sapient Razorfish, said sites like ThredUp can also benefit shoppers as a means of clearing out closets and gaining extra cash for the holiday season. It acts as a particularly attractive option to consumers that have harbored unworn items in their closets for months, which may have aged out of the return period.
“The reason the full-price apparel market has been pretty soft is that consumers’ closets are saturated with clothes,” he said. “There’s this phenomenon that people have enough clothes. There’s always been a percentage of clothing they’ve had but didn’t wear.”
Clark, however, said ThredUp didn’t track how long a new item had been in the possession of the seller before bringing it to the site, and thus doesn’t know if the surge is connected. Rather, she cited poor return policies among e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands as a primary catalyst bringing shoppers to ThredUp over the holidays.
“I don’t know if there’s any correlation, but there is more anticipation for decluttering in the new year,” she said. “That’s a mentality that we see year after year, is people really wanting to start fresh in the new year and have their clothes cleared out.”
For gift recipients in particular, many are using ThredUp as a means to upgrade their gifts and accrue store credit or money they can use toward a more expensive brand. Among people surveyed for the report, 61 percent of people cited that they planned to use the proceeds of what they sell on the site toward a higher-end item.
Ultimately, Clark said the rise of never-before-worn inventory will also serve as an important catalyst to luring a wider range of consumers to the world of digital thrift.
“‘New with tags’ can be a gateway to trying thrift for the first time, especially for a discount consumer who likes places like T.J.Maxx,” she said. “Though they may have never tried thrift before using ThredUp, this might be a way to dip their toe into second-hand online.”