Frugality is all about having choices, right? With millions of people looking for ways to save money in tough times, a growing number of people have turned to resale shops and thrift stores to find their clothes, furniture and household goods. Statistically about 20% of people shop in thrift stores regularly, compared with about 14% in 2008.
The fashion-conscious set is more comfy in the thrift store setting now since place like Goodwill and even local church-affiliated nonprofits are now likely to boast racks organized by color and size, as well as (surprisingly!) newer, seldom-worn clothes. Thrift shoppers these days are reaping the benefits of “overconsumption”– donations often come directly from the stuffed closets of the rich.
Since its start in 1902, Goodwill Industries has expanded into 2,700 stores in 15 countries, said Jim Gibbons, CEO and president of Goodwill. The total donated goods revenue for
the Goodwill network is more than $3 billion, he said. Shoppers are also flocking to The Salvation Army’s more than 600 stores. In the last five years, there has been about a 4% increase in sales. There is expected to be a 1.5% rise in sales this year compared with 2011, said Maj. Mark Nelson, secretary for business at the company.
At some point during the recession and its lingering aftermath, Gen Y, the youth demographic burdened with huge student loans and an awful job market, realized that perhaps paying $30 for a new T-shirt at Gap was unwise. It certainly was not sustainable. Young shoppers may have first turned to thrift stores out of necessity or desperation, but by now, they’re more likely to view secondhand shopping as sensible—even cool.