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Brits are leading the way in the growth of the re-commerce market.

With many facing heightened financial pressures in lockdown, 81% said they bought pre-owned goods.1  Stella McCartney, an early advocate of re-commerce, once commented: "There's $500 billion worth of waste in the fashion industry every year and that, to me, is a business opportunity."2  And McCartney was right. Currently, re-commerce is growing ten times faster than standard retail.  So what are the factors explaining its rise? 


Two major things happened during the Covid-19 pandemic that fuelled re-commerce's growth. Firstly, shoppers became more eco-conscious; re-commerce satisfied these shoppers because it meant fewer items were being thrown away, and more were re-used. 

Secondly, high rates of unemployment and employment uncertainty meant people were looking for bargains. Because of the pre-loved nature of re-commerce, it's also pretty kind to shoppers' wallets.

Of course, with these consumer demands heightening, high street brands weren't far behind. Levi's launched Levi's Secondhand; their own secondary marketplace selling pre-loved denim items with the specific aim of keeping garments "in circulation and out of landfills."3 Nike launched 'Refurbished': a program that takes sneakers returned by customers within 60 days or purchase, inspects, and cleans them up for resale at a lower price to brand loyalists.4

The future of luxury fashion?

Since 2018, the luxury fashion secondhand market has grown by 27% worldwide.5 Brands in this space have seen re-commerce as a big opportunity; not only to increase engagement amongst younger shoppers but also because the long-lasting nature of luxury items means they fare well in a re-sale market. This has contributed to the rise in re-commerce by further fuelling shoppers' changing perceptions of the pre-loved market. No longer confined to charity shops, it's now being embraced by the world's most sought after brands.

Stella McCartney and Balenciaga paired with prominent luxury marketplace The RealReal to offer up-cycled versions of their most premium items. "As a designer, I think it's the biggest compliment for your designs to have an afterlife," said Stella McCartney, "To me - that is luxury."6

Gen Z

This newest group of consumers are arguably the driving force behind re-commerce's growth in popularity. Like the consumers of the pandemic, Gen Z value two things: low prices and sustainability. Re-commerce allows these shoppers to get high quality products at a fraction of the price and minimise their carbon footprint at the same time.

The preference for shopping in secondary markets has actually surged across all generations in a matter of two years, however for Gen Z this has increased by a massive 44%.7

Popular secondary markets include ThredUp and peer-to-peer marketplaces like Depop. The latter of which has been credited with changing attitudes to 'fast fashion' amongst these consumers.8 These are the consumers of the future, so it looks likely that re-commerce will continue its growth throughout 2022 and beyond.

Consumers and brands flock to the re-commerce market for its value and positive effects on the environment. Brands wanting to survive in a post-pandemic world should look to create their own circular economy: reselling, up-cycling, and re-using. 

James Reinhart, Chief Executive Officer of the world's largest thrift store thredUP believes "resale has moved online."  

DHL can support your re-commerce experience with easy returns, next day delivery options, and much more.


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