Categories: Economy

COVID Restrictions Leave Second-Hand Clothing Market Bursting At The Seams

Dwindling sales and mounting donations have spelled doom for the market for buying recycled clothing, Reuters reported.

Since the pandemic began in March, textile recyclers and exporters have had to cut rates amid lockdown measures restricting peoples' movements as well as a slow-down in international shipping.

But the donations have become abundant, especially as people used their time in quarantine to clean out their residences of things they didn't need. The donations have become so plentiful that some have had to turn them down. One of those, Antonio de Carvalho, boss of a textile recycling company in Stourbridge, central England, wrote in an email that he is "reaching the point where our warehouses are completely full," Reuters reported.

Carvalho, who pays towns for clothing collected in donation bins and sells it at profit to traders overseas, said he's seen the price he can charge buyers fall from 570 pounds (about $737) to 400 pounds (about $517). That makes it difficult for him to cover the costs of running his business, Green World Recycling, Reuters reported.

In Kenya, there were 176,000 tons of imports of clothing in 2018, equivalent to more than 335 million pairs of jeans, according to Reuters. Traders in the country have faced adversity from all sides — with diminishing supply, less foot traffic and a government ruling that banned imported textiles for fears they could be carrying COVID-19, although that was lifted in August.

And waste is piling up. In the U.S., tens of millions of tons of clothing end up in landfills, adding to pollution, Reuters reported, in spite of companies like Zara owner Inditex and H&M encouraging customers to bring in unwanted clothes.

Poshmark, which specializes in selling used clothing, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) earlier in September, having come off a successful period in which it racked up 100 million resale transactions as of February. Founder and CEO Manish Chandra said resale popularity is coming from peoples' desire to shop in new ways and get the most value as they can.

Get our hottest stories delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the Newsletter to get updates on top stories and viral hits.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.