Retail therapy may never look the same. The impact of coronavirus has led to a new work-from-home culture, a spike in loungewear and casualwear sales, shuttered stores, and a more sterile ambience in those outlets that have reopened. Countless consumers have tightened their purse strings and are shopping with increased consideration and revised priorities. According to the New York Times, a July 2020 Mintel survey revealed that approximately one-third of consumers have pressed pause on buying clothes altogether, while 32% are concerned about buying clothes in a store. This has created a boom in online shopping for secondhand clothes and offers new opportunities for retailers to recreate the joy of discovery in a virtual format.
The online resale market is set to outpace traditional thrift store and secondhand retail in the United States, rising from $30 million in 2020 to reach $70 million by 2027, according to data from retail analytics firm Future Market Insights. As well as featuring platforms such as Farfetch’s Second Life resale program for designer bags, ThredUp and Depop, the category has also been embraced by major online retailers including ASOS, which has had a vintage marketplace within its e-commerce platform since 2010. Prior to the pandemic, these channels existed alongside the more traditional vintage boutiques and flea markets—spaces that define the in-person shopping experience and are synonymous with the treasure hunt. Now, even these retailers are going online—and they may never go back.