Many factors have converged this year to make resale one of retail’s fastest growing areas. An increase in sustainable consumers, supply chain issues and tight purse strings due to the pandemic are all contributing. Shoppers are seeking out coveted items on second-hand selling platforms – especially when businesses are struggling to stock them.
The figures are striking: according to a new report by OfferUp, 37% of US shoppers turned to resale marketplaces in 2021 to find items in short supply at retailers and 1 in 4 will do so for the festive season.
Byron Binkley, Founder of Sella, a US resale platform, predicts why this trend will dominate 2022 in the US. “Following a year of jarring global warming reports and tropical storms tearing through communities, consumers will be renewing their focus on living sustainably to reduce their footprint”.
He adds: “consumers are drawn to the many benefits the space offers, including buying high-end products at lower prices, sustainably purchasing and selling products, and reducing the destructive cycle of mass manufacturing”.
Fashion and shortages drive resale
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Fashion is certainly one of the key areas where resale has thrived, driven by a growing understanding of the environmental impact of the fashion industry. However, alongside environmental considerations there’s no denying that supply chain issues are helping to fuel the ‘resale’ boom.
The ongoing global supply chain crisis has meant retailers face a difficult Christmas. The causes of the supply chain crisis are complicated and interconnected; factors that in isolation could perhaps be dealt with such as the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, the disruption to shipping that has pushed up prices for cargo containers, Brexit and the pandemic. But combined, these have created huge challenges.
Customers have become accustomed to hearing from many retail bosses that availability of products cannot be guaranteed, driving them to look at resale platforms for items they cannot find elsewhere. OfferUp’s research showed that amongst the most searched item was the PlayStation 5, in direct response to a shortage in electronics due to the pandemic and disruption in the gaming chip supply chain.
Omicron set to cause greater disruption in 2022
As Omicron rapidly surges through the UK and elsewhere, further restrictions being imposed ultimately impacts the retail sector – not least the amount of staff falling foul of the virus which knock on is a further exacerbation of supply change issues.
Retail chiefs, including Alex Baldock, the chief executive of Currys has urged the government not to impose more restrictions on high street retailers as he revealed a slowdown in sales amid increasing fears over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and product shortages.
With that looking unlikely – consumers are going to be further motivated to seek desired items online and if shortages mean the ‘virtual shelves’ are empty then customers will go straight to the ‘resale’ platforms in search of purchasing success. As OfferUp’s research shows, 56% of shoppers planning to shop resale in 2022 due to product shortage forecasts.
If 2021 was the year to put resale firmly into the mainstream of retail, these continued challenges, as well as an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer look set to propel resale even further in 2022.