Is secondhand gifting a holiday disruptor?

Discussion
Photo: @JoesBoilingPoint via Twenty20
Nov 25, 2019
Tom Ryan

According to Accenture’s “13th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey,” giving secondhand gifts is gaining broad acceptance. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents to the study said they would consider giving secondhand clothing as gifts, and even more  (56 percent) would welcome gifts of this kind for themselves.

Accenture said the trend reflects the overall fashion resale and rental movements fueled by Rent the Runway, ThredUp, Poshmark and other marketplaces. Macy’s, Madewell and J.C. Penney are among a number of retailers that have partnered with resale marketplaces.

The greater openness for used gifting reflects increasing concerns about disposable fashion. A majority of respondents to Accenture’s survey also favored eco-friendly delivery options and packaging, including avoiding Christmas wrapping paper. 

The two trends are related. ThredUP’s 2019 Resale Market Report stated that strong momentum in the resale market is being driven by Millennials and Gen Z who prioritize sustainability and clean fashion. 

“Things are changing, especially among young people who try to be sustainable and want to be part of the circular economy,” Sucharita Kodali, at Forrester Research, told Bloomberg in an article exploring the used gifting trend. “Those are the ones that are not only going to be purchasing this stuff but going to feel good about buying it as gifts — and introducing friends and family to those brands as well.”

A new survey from the peer-to-peer selling app, Mercari, similarly found 61 percent of Americans comfortable receiving a secondhand item as a gift, with younger generations more open to the trend. Forty-nine percent of Americans aged 18-34 would give a used gift for a holiday present, while only 38 percent of those aged 55 and older would.

Beyond eco-reasons, secondhand gifting is seen as a way for some gift-givers to save money as well as to discover a unique gift for someone. Said John Lagerling, Mercari U.S. CEO, in a statement, “Store-bought gifts can be predictable and generic since there’s a limit to the variety provided at retail.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense that more consumers are open to receiving and giving used holiday gifts? Do you see the trend having an effect on holiday selling, and is it a positive or negative for retail?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Giving a secondhand gift used to be unthinkable, but those days are well behind us. Kudos to retailers who embrace the change."
"When does it go from being “vintage” to just plain “used”? I think people are open to more types of gifts than ever before."
"If renting and secondhand gifting are picking up even in a robust economy, I can only imagine how prevalent it will be when the recession inevitably hits."

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9 Comments on "Is secondhand gifting a holiday disruptor?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Resale and secondhand is growing at a rapid pace, so it makes perfect sense that more gifts will come from those channels this year. That said, our data show that there is still more of a reluctance to buy secondhand for gifting compared to self-purchasing. Plus, in the broad scheme of things, resale gifting is small compared to overall gift spend – but in these pressured times, anything that takes away from traditional retail channels is damaging for mainstream retailers.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I agree with Neil – the impact of secondhand items on the holidays will likely be small, but any impact this time of year is significant. I suspect that if the impact of secondhand merchandise is at all meaningful during the next few weeks, we will see more partnerships like Macy’s and J.C. Penney in the new year…

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Giving a secondhand gift used to be unthinkable, but those days are well behind us. Kudos to retailers who embrace the change.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
11 months 2 days ago

If renting and secondhand gifting are picking even in a robust economy, I can only imagine how prevalent it will be when the recession inevitably hits. Doesn’t augur too well for anyone in the value chain, except for people actually in the rental business.

It probably will go the college textbook or a car lease route for high-end luxury. No one really buys new, and when they do they always have a guaranteed refund amount – like a lease. Interesting times.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

It’s the thought that counts … especially if it’s a slightly used Gucci belt.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

When does it go from being “vintage” to just plain “used”? I think people are open to more types of gifts than ever before. I also believe this is one more opportunity for retailers to jump onto.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

This is more a style issue than one of sustainability. Specifically for young folks, no one will know if that Cartier watch was secondhand or not. If anything it pushes up the value of high-end luxury brands. There are so many items people can’t afford, especially when they’re early in their careers (or later — that pre-owned Ferrari sounds exciting…). I’m not sure this is the trend with lesser known brands, and typically extends brand value for the brands that are gifted. Window-shopping still exists. Not large enough of market to make a huge dent in holiday shopping and most likely accretive.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I think it’s more of a question of availability: aftermarket marketplaces like eBay have made it quite easy to buy pre-owned quality merchandise easily, something that would have been difficult if not impossible in the days when doing such meant visiting garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores.

But even here there are limits: some don’t mind “used,” some definitely do.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Most items purchased “second hand” are items the purchaser is making for themselves, and that is fine. Receiving a second hand sweater or shirt is probably not appropriate gifting to the vast majority. However, gifting something of apparent value, like an antique or jewelry is an acceptable second-hand gift.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Giving a secondhand gift used to be unthinkable, but those days are well behind us. Kudos to retailers who embrace the change."
"When does it go from being “vintage” to just plain “used”? I think people are open to more types of gifts than ever before."
"If renting and secondhand gifting are picking up even in a robust economy, I can only imagine how prevalent it will be when the recession inevitably hits."

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