thredUP Releases Its Ninth Annual Resale Report with First-Ever Impact Section

thredUP News
6 min readJun 23, 2021

The 2021 Resale Report estimates that the secondhand market is projected to double in the next 5 years, reaching $77 billion.

33 million consumers bought secondhand apparel for the first time in 2020, and 76% of those first-time buyers plan to increase their spend on secondhand in the next 5 years.

ThredUp Inc., one of the largest online resale platforms for women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes, and accessories, today released the results of the 2021 Resale Report. The comprehensive study is conducted by third-party retail analytics firm GlobalData and serves as the most robust measure of the U.S. secondhand market. The ninth annual study, which surveyed 3,500 consumers, estimates that the secondhand market is projected to double in the next five years, reaching $77 billion. This year’s study reveals new insights on tailwinds propelling resale in the pandemic recovery and the role of government in accelerating the adoption of Circular Fashion. For the first time, the report also includes a thredUP Impact Section highlighting the company’s progress towards its mission to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first.

“We are in the early stages of a radical transformation in retail. Consumers are prioritizing sustainability, retailers are starting to embrace resale, and policymakers are getting on board with the circular economy. Pollutive industries have the power to transform when technological innovation collides with the motivations of consumers, businesses and government. We’ve seen it with electric cars and solar energy, and we believe circular fashion is next. With this year’s Resale Report, we hope to shine a light on the positive power of resale and create a catalyst for further collaboration and action across the industry.” — James Reinhart, Co-Founder and CEO, thredUP

Notable findings from the 2021 Resale Report reveal:

The resale sector grew during the pandemic and is projected to accelerate in the recovery.

  • Secondhand is now a $36 billion market, projected to double in the next 5 years to $77 billion.
  • Resale is expected to grow 11 times faster than retail clothing over the next 5 years.
  • In 2020, 33 million consumers bought secondhand apparel for the first time, and 76% of those first-time buyers plan to increase their spend on secondhand in the next 5 years.

Consumers and retailers want the government to step in to incentivize resale.

  • 58% of retail executives say they’d be more likely to test apparel resale if there were financial incentives for doing so.
  • 44% of consumers think the government should help promote sustainable fashion. 47% say they’d be more inclined to purchase secondhand clothing if there was no sales tax or they received a tax credit.

Resale is an emerging growth channel for apparel retailers.

  • 62% of retail executives say their customers are already participating in resale, and 42% of retail executives say resale will be an important part of their business in the next 5 years.
  • 1 in 3 retail executives say resale is becoming table stakes for retailers.
  • 43% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with a brand that lets them trade in old clothes for brand credit, and 34% say they are more likely to shop with a brand that offers secondhand clothing alongside new.

Secondhand is displacing fast fashion, new clothing purchases, and harmful production as consumers switch to thrift.

  • Resale is expected to be more than 2X bigger than fast fashion by 2030, with 2 in 5 thrifters saying they’re replacing fast fashion purchases with secondhand clothing.
  • The average thrifter bought ~7 items secondhand in the past year that they would normally buy new, displacing more than 542 million new items of apparel.
  • In the past decade: 6.65 billion items of apparel have been recirculated via the secondhand market. Consumers have saved $390 billion by buying secondhand. 116 billion pounds of CO2e have been displaced by buying used instead of new apparel.

Consumers’ values have changed since Covid, driving new demand for secondhand.

  • 1 in 3 consumers care more about wearing sustainable apparel than pre-pandemic.
  • 60% of consumers are more opposed to wasting money. 51% of consumers are more opposed to environmental waste.
  • 1 in 2 consumers care more about seeking value.

thredUP powers resale at scale, driving meaningful impact for people and the planet.

  • thredUP gives new life to millions of used clothes, offsetting the environmental and financial cost of fashion.
  • To date, thredUP has processed more than 125 million unique secondhand items, displaced 1 billion pounds of carbon emissions, and saved consumers $3.9 billion off estimated retail price.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, the resale market is stronger than ever. Consumers are refreshing their closets and turning to resale as a way to sustainably discard garments and acquire new ones. Retailers recognize this shift, which is why so many of them are now looking to get into resale. These trends will make resale the most dynamic and fast-paced part of the apparel market over the next decade.” — Neil Saunders, Managing Director, GlobalData

To see the study’s full results, visit https://www.thredup.com/resale/.

About the 2021 Resale Report

thredUP’s Annual Resale Report contains research and data from GlobalData, a third-party retail analytics firm. GlobalData’s assessment of the secondhand market is determined through consumer surveys, retailer tracking, official public data, data sharing, store observation, and secondary sources. These inputs are used by analysts to model and calculate market sizes, channel sizes, and market shares. Further, for the purpose of this report, GlobalData conducted a March and April 2021 survey of 3,500 American adults over 18, asking specific questions about their behaviors and preferences for secondhand. thredUP’s Resale Report also leverages data from the following sources: Green Story Inc. research and internal thredUP customer and brand performance data. View all sources here.

Disclosure: All third-party brand names and logos appearing in this report are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Any such appearance does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement of thredUP.

About thredUP

thredUP is transforming resale with technology and a mission to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first. By making it easy to buy and sell secondhand, thredUP has become one of the world’s largest resale platforms for women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes and accessories. Sellers love thredUP because we make it easy to clean out their closets and unlock value for themselves or for the charity of their choice while doing good for the planet. Buyers love shopping value, premium and luxury brands all in one place, at up to 90% off estimated retail price. Our proprietary operating platform is the foundation for our managed marketplace and consists of distributed processing infrastructure, proprietary software and systems and data science expertise. In 2018, we extended our platform with Resale-as-a-ServiceⓇ (RaaSⓇ), which facilitates modern resale for a number of the world’s leading brands and retailers. thredUP has processed over 125 million unique secondhand items from 35,000 brands across 100 categories. By extending the life cycle of clothing, thredUP is changing the way consumers shop and ushering in a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.

Forward Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical facts. The words “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “predict” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Except as required by law, thredUP has no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements to conform these statements to actual results or revised expectations.

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