Resale

Resale therapy: The secondhand outlook for 2023

Inflation drives more people to resale. Used items alongside new ones at your favorite retailer. Home goods and other categories jump in.
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· 5 min read

This is the second of two stories about what’s in store for the resale market next year.

In our first installment, we pondered the resale market’s velocity:

  • Even more brands could open resale stores this year than in 2022.
  • Revenues will keep climbing, but profits may remain elusive until both resale marketplaces like ThredUp and brand-led resale efforts scale up.
  • Luxury brands, some of which were hesitant to jump on the resale bandwagon, will climb aboard.

Onward, then, to more predictions.

Online resale marketplaces will expand to IRL stores

Recently we (specifically me, Andy) visited TheRealReal, which, although known primarily as an e-commerce purveyor of luxury resale, has a brick-and-mortar location (one of 19) in the SoHo section of Manhattan. We sampled some delectables from its café, which is called, naturally, The RealReal CaféCafé.

Matthew A. Kaness, CEO and board advisor of GoodwillFinds.com, the Goodwill e-commerce site that launched in 2022, told us it’s “inevitable” that more e-commerce resale programs will add IRL locations in 2023.

“People live on and offline; you have to be on and offline,” Kaness told us. “You can acquire customers and capture demand in both the physical world and the digital world.”

Legacy retail brands will sell resale in stores

Along with marketplaces like TheRealReal, this also could be the year that more brands with online resale programs—like, say, Adidas—start stocking used items alongside new merchandise in their stores.

“There are some brands that have done this already—Patagonia and REI being a couple— but it’s not commonplace yet,” Emily Gittins, co-founder and CEO of Archive, which partners with retail brands on their resale programs, told us. “It’s definitely further along in Europe.”

Other categories will flourish

Apparel resale tends to hog the spotlight when it comes to the resale surge in media coverage (yeah, us too), but most used items purchased are not clothes.

  • Fewer than one out of four (24%) items sold through recommerce are clothing, according to a 2022 OfferUp report, citing GlobalData estimates.
  • The balance of resale purchases is in categories including “electronics, furniture, home goods, home improvement, sporting goods, outdoor equipment, and auto parts” according to OfferUp.

While many of those non-clothing transactions may be on big marketplaces like eBay, niche newcomers and legacy retailers are entering the fray.

  • Toronto-based Rebelstork introduced its platform for reselling baby gear, like baby monitors and strollers, to the US market in 2022.
  • Also in 2022, Dick’s Sporting Goods launched a resale platform, Out&Back, which, along with clothing, includes gear like tents and snowboards.
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“It’s a natural starting point for the clothing industry to be the first mover” when it comes to brands embracing resale, Gittins told us. In the coming year, she added, “there’s no reason why a home-goods brand or a kitchenware brand or ski-equipment brand or whatever it is can’t do something similar.”

Consolidation will continue

In 2022, players in the resale market were themselves being sold.

  • Grailed, the resale fashion marketplace, was acquired by Goat Group, whose platform primarily sells sneakers.
  • Poshmark, a peer-to-peer resale site with social-network aspects, was sold to South Korean internet company Naver Corp.
  • Another resale site, Tradesy, was purchased by Paris-based Vestiaire Collective, which shut down Tradesy and transferred its 7 million members to the Vestiaire platform.

“We expect to see more corporate shake-ups and consolidations coming down the pipeline,” a December report from Coresight predicted.

Does Brian Ehrig, global head of fashion and luxury at Kearney, expect to see more mergers and acquisitions in 2023.

“Absolutely,” responded Ehrig, who told us in the first installment that many resale brands, despite surging sales, still will not reach the break-even point in 2023 due to high overhead and lack of scale.

As for mergers, “I’m sure this has been the discussion of lots of private equity firms or other strategic buyers that might be thinking about how to use this opportunity to consolidate the market,” Ehrig said. “Because if you’ve got the technology behind it, and you can get the scale into the right place, then that’s a real opportunity.”

Inflation will help, not hurt resale

Say it with us: Counter-cyclical.

“What we see [with inflation] is that people will need cheaper options for clothing and for goods more broadly and will look to resale as a way to continue to buy the brands they love, but at lower price points,” Gittins said.

“But also on the sell side,” she continued, “we will likely see consumers being more motivated to monetize their current closet.”

In other words, look for resale to have an even bigger crop of inflationary lemons for this year’s lemonade.

“So the overarching trend is obviously, 2022 was a big year for resale, but expect 2023 to be even bigger given it’s a counter-cyclical market,” Gittins said.

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