The apparel and footwear resale market is seeing record-setting growth during the pandemic. Sites like thredUP and Poshmark have experienced a surge in consumer activity. The trend was reinforced this week by a half-year status report from footwear resale marketplace StockX.
The company announced in its report that it has reached $2.5 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) and has seen its most successful months during the second quarter. The end of the first half of the year also marks 10 million lifetime trades for the marketplace.
"The first half of the year presented unprecedented challenges with dynamic shifts in how and where consumers spend their money," said Scott Cutler, CEO of StockX. "As is the case for any live marketplace, real-life events have ramifications on market performance. These dynamic shifts in consumer behavior enable StockX to flex the model and deliver in these major cultural moments. Platforms that actively disrupt commerce are uniquely positioned to meet the consumer where they now are, which is one of the key reasons we've seen this recent growth."
StockX recorded 18 of its top 20 sales days in its two-year history in Q2 2020, with May and June marking its two biggest buyer months. And it’s not just Gen Z and “sneakerheads” that are driving the StockX growth. Over the last six months, the share of StockX users who are 45+ years old has risen 30 percent, pointing to the narrowing of what the company calls its “digital divide.”
The sneaker market is changing, too, according to the report. Women's sneakers have outpaced the market by 70 percent over 2019. During that same time, smaller brands like New Balance and AntiSocialSocialClub have also seen unprecedented growth, increasing by more than 100 percent.
Other new data reinforce the StockX findings. ThredUP’s annual report puts the secondhand apparel market at about $28 billion today, and it is forecast to reach $64 billion within five years. It said the resale market grew 25 times faster than the overall retail market last year, with an estimated 64 million people buying secondhand products in 2019.
According to CNBC, “Some experts have cautioned that consumers might pull back on shopping used merchandise as they think about the COVID-19 virus and how it can be transmitted. Some worry it might linger on fabrics.” But according to thredUP CEO James Reinhart, the data does not reflect that fear.
“The constant news cycle around how the virus is transmitted has educated consumers. It does not get transmitted on apparel,” he said. “When this started, we were all worried about take-out food. Now that is safe. Consumers are smart about this stuff.”
Vestiaire Collective, which has a bigger international footprint than thredUP or StockX, has also released a report highlighting resale fashion trends. It shows that transactions were up 88 percent at the end of May, compared to April. Its 10 million users ordered 119 percent more items in May 2020, compared to May 2019.
Vestiaire attributes the increase more to a shift in consumer attitudes toward sustainability than any kind of pandemic-driven change, as consumers are more aware of the positive environmental effects of recycling and reusing apparel.
“It’s only during a crisis that anyone’s values can be tested. As the effects of COVID-19 spread rapidly, now a third of consumers are worried about losing their jobs in the upcoming economic downturn,” the report says. “Things that seemed certain in January are no longer set in stone, and this has affected every part of people’s thinking, from their die-hard regular shopping habits to their overarching values when it comes to consumption and community.”