As Black Friday approaches, second-hand gifts set to ride the holiday shopping wave

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Concerns about sustainability and changing fashion views have made used gifts less taboo.

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Teresa Chin, a friend of mine from high school, started looking for Christmas decorations for her in-laws early this year. She had heard about the problems in the global supply chain and didn’t want to be left empty-handed for the holidays.

So Chin turned to Poshmark, an online second-hand clothing and housewares marketplace, where she found skier cheetah figurines – items full of personal references that would tickle her husband’s parents. Because Poshmark vendors tend to list what they already have on hand, Chin didn’t worry about his cheetahs missing the holidays due to busy ports or blocked channels. Purchases also correspond to its value of consuming less new things.

“It’s on time. It’s cute,” Chin told me. “It sounds personal.”

Chin is far from the only one who gives gifts euphemistically called “previously held”. Driven by concerns about consumer waste and climate change, attitudes towards second-hand goods have been changing for years. The reassessment created booming business for everything from auction sites to online consignment stores.

The craze for second-hand items has led many consumers to consider a once unthinkable practice: giving second-hand items as gifts. Almost 40% of respondents to a survey conducted on behalf of resale site Mercari said they plan to buy at least one second-hand gift this year. Half of them said they would be comfortable telling the recipient that the gift previously belonged. Sales in luxury categories are rapid as the holidays approach, according to eBay, which said it saw five second-hand watches and three second-hand handbags sell out every minute as the holidays approach.

The move towards second-hand gifts is being strongly boosted this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed factories and closed ports. This made new articles sensitive to shipping delays and supply shortages. Second-hand goods are not subject to these woes. If the collector’s sneakers are on the site, they are in stock.

Buying used items online has been around since Web 1.0. But the options for finding the perfect gift have multiplied in recent years. eBay, which has been offering branded clothing, electronics, and collectibles since the 1990s, now competes with peer-to-peer marketplaces like Poshmark and Mercari. Online consignment stores, including RealReal, ThredUp and Vestiaire Collective, have also emerged.

Neil Saunders, retail analyst at Global Data, whose company helped lead the Mercari survey, says people who shop online for themselves have helped break down the psychological barrier to buying gifts. ‘opportunity.

“We’ve seen this stigma decrease year by year,” Saunders said.

Second-hand goods can mean less environmental damage

Some buyers are drawn to online savings and consignment as a way to reduce their environmental footprint, say ThredUp and RealReal. This extends to gifts, as 22% of buyers in the Mercari survey said they would turn to the second-hand market during the holidays due to sustainability concerns.

Buying second-hand clothes allows gifts to find something beautiful that contributes less to climate change than something new would. The fashion industry has a bad reputation for emitting greenhouse gases, polluting water and contributing to deforestation, which has caused more socially conscious people to buy less new clothes. More than 40% of those polled said sustainability was a “deciding factor” for shopping at RealReal, according to data from a company survey.

ThredUp has discovered that sustainability is particularly motivating for young buyers, says Christina Berger, spokesperson for the company. ThredUp and other online retailers could push fashion brands to make fewer, better-quality products, she says.

“There will always be a place for new items, of course,” said Berger. “But overall, we need to reuse more and produce less.”

Used goods can be unique

Many gift givers, like my friend Teresa, are looking for something unique that matches the recipient’s tastes. Recent changes in the way shoppers perceive fashion trends mean that many people are interested in finding older handbags or accessories from fashion collections that are hard to find. Having the latest news isn’t the only – or even the highest – priority for fashionistas.

This change was already underway with items like sneakers, which increase in resale value the most of any clothing category, and now means the most thoughtful gift you can give a fashionable friend could be a Gucci handbag from a few years ago. Consignment sites may only have one or two among all of their other items, so receiving that exact bag could be a big deal.

“It’s very special to know that the donor has organized something for you out of millions of items,” said Rati Levesque, President of RealReal.

Second-hand goods don’t have to look cheap

Holiday gift givers aren’t Scrooge’s because they buy second-hand items. Sure, you can find a nice winter coat or designer sportswear for about half the retail price listed on many auction, thrift, and consignment sites, but you can also find bags. hand-held Versace and Cartier watches that cost over a thousand dollars.

There are many consignment services for people who see clothing as an investment. Companies like RealReal and ThredUp say they want to help consumers buy new, more expensive items and then resell them to recoup some of the cost.

It is a potential alternative to quick fashion shopping. Instead of constantly buying cheap clothes that wear out easily, shoppers who can afford to pay more up front can access clothes that cost more but last longer and retain some of their value. . Some sellers may only get part of their money back, and others may get even more than what they originally paid for, as some items increase in value as they become harder to find. .

Electronics is another item that buyers can find at a discount on resale sites, including eBay, and they don’t necessarily look less good as gifts. Most people want to donate electronic devices in a sealed box, says Jordan Sweetnam, senior vice president and general manager of eBay North America. The company’s eBay Refurbished program provides electronics in generic packaging and sometimes includes new user manuals. Well-known brands also sell their own refurbished products on eBay, usually with branded packaging and quality guarantees.

This, he says, provides “that feeling of freshness that is so important when offering refurbished products.”


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