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Fashion resale booming amid all generations — even boomers

boomer shopper
During the past two years, baby boomers use of resale has grown by 56%.

The resale market continues to grow as shoppers of all ages embrace buying — or renting— previously-owned apparel, shoes and accessories.

The preference for shopping secondary markets has surged across all generations in a matter of two years, according to a report by First Insight. The report was done in partnership with the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

During the past two years, baby boomers use of resale has grown by 56%, Gen X’s has increased by 35% and millennials’ has risen by 33%. Gen Z’s is up 44%.

“While only 39% of Baby Boomers participated in resale in 2019, today that number has more than doubled, with 81% participating in some form of recommerce,” said Greg Petro, CEO, First Insight.

Secondary markets include resale sites such as ThredUp, The RealReal and Poshmark, and peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Depop and Storr. Rent the Runway and other rental platforms have also joined the market.

[Read More: Resale market to get holiday surge, says study]

The data found that the most popular sustainable retail models are third-party and brand-operated resale and recommerce. Sixty-five percent of total respondents preferred these options over rentals, subscription boxes, peer-to-peer marketplaces, and clothing swaps, according to the study.

“Resale and recommerce continue to gain importance with consumers,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. “When we fielded our first sustainability report in 2019, resale and recommerce were used by more than half of our respondents regardless of generation. Today, just two years later, as the trend of sustainability continues to gain traction, we’ve seen an enormous increase in the adoption of resale across all generations—even boomers.”

At least 50% of all respondents across generations prefer the resale/recommerce market for a combination of reasons indicating a concern for the planet and a preference for sustainability and circular shopping, according to the study.

“Regardless of their reasons to shop recommerce, 83% of all respondents across all generations said that they will continue to purchase secondhand products,” said Professor Thomas Robertson, academic director of Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center.

GenX and millennials have the highest number of respondents who confirmed that they sell items to secondhand markets such as ThredUp and Poshmark, with 47% of Gen X and 52% of millennials participating as sellers. More than half (55%) of all respondents that sell items through recommerce channels prefer compensation in the form of cash as opposed to rewards, loyalty points, or discounts on future purchases.

“It is clear that both the retail landscape and the consumer are becoming more complicated than ever before, and the need to continue to understand their constantly evolving demands is critically important to a consumer brand’s success,” said Petro.

Download the report here.

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