The stigma around secondhand gifting is fading away

Discussion
Photo: ThredUP
Nov 14, 2022

With inflation top of mind for many, surveys show consumers are more eager to buy secondhand items as holiday gifts this year to save money.

Deloitte’s “2022 Holiday Retail Survey” found that 32 percent of holiday gifters plan to buy resale items, up from 30 percent in 2021. The top reasons were:

  • To save money overall — 64 percent against 55 percent last year; 
  • To afford something that’s a little nicer — 49 percent versus 38 percent;
  • To be ethical — 43 percent against 42 percent;
  • To try different types of products — 37 percent against 28 percent.

Among surveyed retail execs, 48 planned to sell refurbished or used products this holiday season.

ThredUP’s “Thrift for the Holidays” report found that nearly half of consumers are considering gifting secondhand items this holiday season. The top reasons: searching for savings, 56 percent; wanting to shop more sustainably, 54 percent; and wanting to give a gift that’s unique, 34 percent.

Other factors included 52 percent expressing concerns about the rising prices of popular gifts and one-third believing limited inventory will make it difficult to find gifts. A majority, 62 percent, felt buying secondhand apparel/fashion gifts is more socially acceptable now than five years ago, and two-thirds (72 percent of Gen-Z) were open to receiving a secondhand gift.

A survey from OfferUp, the mobile resale marketplace, found the biggest driving factor in consumer’s willingness to purchase pre-owned holiday gifts was inflation, cited by 51 percent; followed by the need to find out-of-stock gifts, 29 percent; avoiding shipping delays, 27 percent; and avoiding the stress of in-store shopping, 26 percent. Three-quarters were more open to gifting pre-owned items, while 82 percent were more open to receiving pre-owned gifts.

Among retailers expanding resale options is Amazon.com, which in October announced a partnership with reseller What Goes Around Comes Around to bring pre-owned handbags from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès and other fashion houses to the site. Amazon Fashion president Muge Erdirik Dogan told WWD, “We are excited to bring Amazon’s joyful shopping experience, convenience, and fast shipping to pre-loved luxury product shopping.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are the drivers behind gifting resale items this holiday different from past years? Is the trend more positive than negative for retail?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"It’s not yet socially acceptable to give used items as gifts. We may be there someday but we’re not there yet."
"In our family, secondhand shopping has become a game. We have a set amount to spend, and the person who comes up with the best holiday gift at that amount wins."
"It’s great that secondhand buying and gifting is now more socially acceptable. But it sounds like the primary motive is inflation/price/value."

Join the Discussion!

14 Comments on "The stigma around secondhand gifting is fading away"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

There are many drivers of the booming secondhand market, including resale gifting. Some of them like sustainability, finding unique and interesting items, and saving money have been around for a while. However with inflation still running rampant there is now even more emphasis on saving money and finding value for money. All of this is underpinned by a decline in the stigma around giving and receiving secondhand gifts and an expansion of the number of retailers offering resale.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

It’s great that secondhand buying and gifting is now more socially acceptable. But it sounds like the primary motive is inflation/price/value. Any sustainability pluses are a dividend, not a driver. It will be interesting in a year or two when hopefully inflation won’t be an issue. Will sustainability ever rise to be the main motivation in buying and gifting secondhand product?

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

The stigma around used items has faded in part because of economic and environmental concerns, but more because secondhand companies have cracked the customers experience code. When my ThredUp blazer comes carefully wrapped in tissue paper with a gold seal and packaged like it’s brand new, the feeling of buying “used” disappears and the product takes on all the excitement and delight of one that is new.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Etiquette states that even when you don’t like a gift you should accept it with gratitude.

Good luck with that.

It’s human nature to judge the gifts we are given. Before I would ever give a thrifted gift I would need to know that the person I was giving it to would be accepting of such a gift.

I know people who would be thrilled to receive a thoughtful thrifted gift, and I know others who would be horrified. This is retail pushing a trend. It’s not yet socially acceptable to give used items as gifts. We may be there someday but we’re not there yet.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Precisely, Why does it seem like these “the stigma in (whatever) is fading” stories are always a follow-up to an announcement that a seller is now offering (whatever)? Thanks for telling us!

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

All the reasons noted in the discussion are relevant. However the biggest reason for finding secondhand goods acceptable is the quality of the merchandise. The secondhand merchandise of today is not that cheap junker. It is that refurbished Mercedes that I can now almost afford.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

It’s the gift that matters, not the box it comes in. I love the idea of secondhand gifting, especially for items that are durable and have plenty of use left for the recipient.

Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

In our family, secondhand shopping has become a game. We have a set amount to spend, and the person who comes up with the best holiday gift at that amount wins. With the cost of goods rising tremendously, secondhand is the expected way to go. And win the holiday shopper award!

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

Regifting has been around since gift-giving began – it was just kept quiet. But the combination of rising prices and a greater concern for sustainability have brought it into the light and more acceptable for many.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

The resale market, particularly in fashion, has been gaining significantly in terms of respectability and even preference, especially among younger shoppers. My hipster community is full of upscale resale shops, most with upscale pricing. Even the local Salvation Army store calls itself, “Sally’s on Fourth.” As to the motives for seeking out resale gifts, they vary. Cost is obviously critical, as are issues of sustainability. But I think that the notion of the treasure hunt and finding unique, higher quality items can’t – or at least shouldn’t – be overlooked.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Why would it matter where one purchases a gift if it is something that the recipient would enjoy?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

In my family we’ve often given secondhand gifts, and have learned there’s a trick. What the survey misses is that the key to these gifts being meaningful to the receiver is that their secondhand nature has to add value. Is it a hard-to-find item! Is it an item no longer made but which is better than the new ones available? There are a lot of positive values to be found in secondhand items other than “I bought it because it was cheap.”

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Yes, secondhand gifts may actually be more valuable to the recipient than traditionally store-bought items.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

The stigma of secondhand items has faded with the new generation who are used to thrifting to mix and match and for sustainability purposes. Gifting among people with that viewpoint is not an issue and it feels more personal than a gift card. Really it is a matter of the audience in terms of acceptability. From a retailer point of view it is a lost sale but I think given inflation and sustainability trends, it is something retailers have to live with in the long run.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It’s not yet socially acceptable to give used items as gifts. We may be there someday but we’re not there yet."
"In our family, secondhand shopping has become a game. We have a set amount to spend, and the person who comes up with the best holiday gift at that amount wins."
"It’s great that secondhand buying and gifting is now more socially acceptable. But it sounds like the primary motive is inflation/price/value."

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