ThredUp: Consumers open to buying, receiving secondhand goods this holiday

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Shoppers are increasingly open to upcycled holiday gifts.

Interest in buying upcycled goods is high amid consumer desire for a more sustainable holiday.

A majority (71%) of consumers say they want to be less wasteful this holiday season, according to the annual holiday survey conducted by online resale platform ThredUp with GlobalData. Interest in a sustainable holiday is even higher among millennial respondents, as nearly three in four surveyed millennial consumers said they would like to give more eco-friendly gifts this holiday season.

More than half (56%) of all respondents, and six in 10 (61%) Gen Z respondents, said they are open to or prefer receiving an upcycled gift. The number one reason is that an upcycled present is more unique than a new item, followed by an upcycled gift being more eco-friendly than a new product.

In line with this finding, two in three (66%) of all respondents, and even higher percentages of surveyed millennial and Gen Z consumers, said buying secondhand apparel/fashion gifts is more socially acceptable now than it was five years ago.

The survey also revealed that for many consumers, secondhand holiday gifts also offer the opportunity to save money and be unique, as well as help the environment. Notable findings include:

  • More than three in four respondents (76%), and 79% of surveyed millennial consumers, would like to buy more affordable gifts this holiday season.
  • Almost eight in 10 (78%) respondents would like to give holiday gifts that are special without spending a lot of money.
  • Seven in 10 (71%) respondents, and more than eight in 10 (82%) surveyed Gen Z consumers, said they would like to give more one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season.
  • Almost two in three (64%) respondents said purchasing secondhand gifts could help them stretch their dollar further this holiday season.

Consumers committed to sustainable purchases; intent varies by category
Sixty-five percent of U.S. buyers consider sustainability when making purchases, a 14% increase from a year ago, according to the recent Global Sustainability Study 2022 by pricing advisory firm Simon-Kucher & Partners. 

The shift in consumer behavior coincides with a shift in sentiment toward sustainability during the past year, as 73% of respondents to the Simon-Kucher & Partners survey view environmental sustainability to be 'as important’ or ‘more important’ to them than a year ago, the report said.

Notably, 45% of respondents who previously identified their attitudes towards sustainability as negative or neutral, cited environmental sustainability as a higher priority when it comes to purchasing decisions. Overall, 61% ranked sustainability as a top five value driver in at least one category.

In the U.S., 71% of consumers surveyed indicated their purchasing behavior and choices have shifted in at least a modest way towards buying more environmentally sustainable products over the past five years. The U.S. is tied with Norway, which saw the largest positive shift in sustainable purchases.

A sense of responsibility (61%) was the leading motivator for purchasing sustainable goods and services, followed by a fear of environmental damage (49%) and the benefit of younger generations (46%).

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