October 24, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Whether you call it the “thrift economy”, the “new normal” or the “repurpose” market, women have eagerly embraced the joys of thrift shopping during the economic downturn. The thrift market continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of retail.
Thrift today embodies inventive and unconventional ways to economize that provides experience, discovery and engagement. And thrift shops are employing many of the retail principles that keep us coming back – turning inventory, providing easy to shop environments and offering sales.
There are more than 30,000 thrift, resale and consignment shops in the United States. According to NARTS, the Association of Resale Professionals, the number of stores has grown by seven percent a year over the past two years and sales are up some 12%. Based on research, some 16-18% of us will shop at a thrift store this year. For consignment/resale shops, the percentage is 12-15%. Compare these percentages to the 11.4% of Americans who shop in factory outlet malls, 19.6% in apparel stores and 21.3% in department stores.
A new study by Brigham Young shows that middle class families are shopping at thrift and resale shops with the same frequency as lower income families. And both are shopping for the same type of items.
Why are we shopping at Thrift Stores?
1. It’s the economy, stupid. Sorry, just had to say it, but the truth is sociologists at Brigham Young University found that we are 11% more likely to shop at thrift shops or yard sales for every $10,000 change in annual household income. It seems that Moms are finding that alternative shopping venues can provide quality products at prices they can afford.
2. Feel Good Shopping. Social consciousness and an increased focus on recycling and repurposed goods are at the heart of a portion of thrift purchases. Many conscientious Americans are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. So repurposing clothing and other household items is seen as a green alternative. In addition, many thrift shops benefit non-profits offering social good with social shopping.
3. Specialty, one-of-a-kind items can be purchased for less. Resale is a perfect source for a variety of one-time needs like bridal, uniforms, and sports. Teens love resale for the perfect Halloween costume. Moms like resale for that son’s first year of lacrosse that he might or might not stay in.
4. Adventure and Fun. There is a thrill to thrift shopping that goes beyond a real need to the hunt and capture of a real find. Nothing gets a shopper more excited than the ultimate kill – a brand new item still sporting the original price tag, or a valuable antique or collectible for a song.
Think this is all academic? Consider my week. I went to a wedding last night where the cutest little flower girl was sporting a lovely thrift find in the perfect shade of gold that complemented the wedding party. One of my best friends told me her fashion plate daughter had just scored a great new scarf at a resale shop that totally made her new outfit. My daughter had just cruised a thrift shop looking for a Halloween costume. And I made a trip to the first franchised thrift shop in America, Thrift Smart. The first location of the new franchise group yielded some research, a fashionable long sweater for the fall and a little witch plate for some holiday fun. Seems the thrift store was having a sale so the sweater was $1.99, and the plate was 99 cents.
Thrift shopping has moved from underground to mainstream.