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Reselling designer goods goes beyond being trendy

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, Associated Press Published: May 11, 2014
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— Jenna Broems shops for clothes the same way she hunts for a new car: She considers resale value.

Broems, who lives in Stamford, Conn., only buys brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and 7 For All Mankind because she believes they will fetch the highest prices when she’s ready to move on.

“I’m now walking in like ‘What’s the return of this? Am I going to be able to resell?’” said the teacher who has gotten $2,500 from stuff she’s resold on ThredUP, an online resale site for used clothes.

Americans increasingly are considering the resale value when they shop for everything from jeans to handbags. The habit is in part due to a growing number of web sites that make it easy for shoppers to buy and resell pre-owned goods.

Economic reality

It’s the latest reflection of the tough economy. Buying used goods at consignment shops became popular during the recession when Americans were hurting for extra cash.

The habit has stuck during the economic recovery as people have gotten used to being able to wear the latest fashions without paying top dollar: Just as people lease a new car every couple of years so they’re always riding in style, reselling clothes is a way for Americans to trade up or splurge without spending a lot of additional cash.

The trend also is a consequence of the escalating cost of luxury. Rising prices of designer merchandise in recent years have tested the willingness of even affluent shoppers to pay full price. The price tag of a classic Chanel handbag, for example, is now $4,900 this year, up from $2,250 in 2007.

The size of the resale market is tiny: about 10 percent of overall luxury goods — including clothing, handbags, accessories and home furnishings, are sold in the aftermarket — with about one percent of pre-worn goods sold online, estimates Forrester Research’s Sucharita Mulpuru.

Shopping to sell

But data suggests it’s a fast growing area of retail: Shoppers seem to have resale value in mind. According to a survey conducted last year by market research firm The Intelligence Group’s Cassandra Report, 44 percent of 900 shoppers between the ages of 14 and 34 think of resale value when they purchase things like electronics, furniture and clothing.

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