Millennial Shoppers Lead Resale’s Growth

As consumers turn to secondhand shopping options to manage their budgets amid inflation, millennials are leading the way.

By the Numbers

For the January edition of the “Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report,” titled “Consumers Shop Secondhand Stores as Often as Other Retail,” PYMNTS Intelligence conducted a survey of over 2,300 U.S. consumers to gain insights into how inflation and rising retail prices have influenced their shopping habits.

Share of consumers who engaged with secondhand purchases this year

Supplemental findings from the report showed that among consumers who bought secondhand products last year, 52% of millennials have increased their resale shopping. Millennials were the only generation in which most secondhand shoppers were buying more pre-owned items year over year.

The Data in Context

Millennials often face financial challenges, including student loan debt, high living costs and the impact of economic recessions. Secondhand shopping offers a cost-effective way to obtain goods, making it a practical choice for many millennials trying to manage their budgets. Additionally, millennials have witnessed the rise and proliferation of online marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, ThredUp and Facebook Marketplace.

“[C]onsumer confidence is actually now down … three months in a row,” ThredUp CEO and co-founder James Reinhart told analysts on the company’s earnings call in May. “I think the consumer is a little bit more cautious.”

The economic instability experienced by millennials, particularly during the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, has heightened their awareness of the importance of saving money and making financially prudent decisions, such as purchasing secondhand items. eBay, for its part, is seeing demand amid consumers’ value-seeking behaviors.

“Our model is working because we have global demand,” the online marketplace’s CEO Jamie Iannone told analysts on a call discussing the company’s first-quarter 2024 earnings results. “We’ve really focused in on non-new in season over the last couple of years, and we can provide value in a marketplace like this.”

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