Are Used Toys Part of Our Retail Future?

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I try to keep my eyes on trends that, at first glance, appear to have nothing to do with toys…but do. A case in point is an article I saw last month entitled “Walmart Partners with thredUP to Enter Popular Fashion Resale Market.” Denise Incandela, Head of Fashion for Walmart, is the author of the piece. Here is how she describes Walmart’s new venture:

“I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be offering even more fantastic brands with our entry into the ‌popular fashion resale ‌market through‌ ‌our online‌ ‌partnership‌ ‌with thredUP, the leading resale platform for fashion and accessories at mass-market prices. Starting today, customers can shop www.walmart.com/thredup to find nearly 750,000 pre-owned items across women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, footwear, and handbags.”

At the time, I thought it odd that Walmart was getting into the used fashion business. But then I saw this CSA article by Dan Berthiaume, “Study: Resale apparel market set to skyrocket in post-COVID-19 world.” According to Mr. Berthiaume, the market for resale clothing is going to double over the next five years.

Coronavirus is, as we all know too well, playing havoc with unemployment and we may feel the impact longer than we hope. As a result, the apparel industry is expecting consumers to keep a much tighter grip on their credit and debit cards. The opportunity to buy fashion, although used, at deeply discounted prices will be highly attractive to those with limited means.

If Walmart is getting into the used fashion business, then there is something going on in our buying culture.” That, in my opinion, is the rise of the Gen Z shopper. Gen Z members (currently five to twenty-five years old) are a frugal bunch. The article informs us that “Nine out of 10 Gen Z consumers are open to buying used clothing.”

Keep in mind that the oldest Gen Z members are beginning to become parents and that frugality may well apply to the toys they purchase for themselves and their children. What they buy and how they shop will have a major impact on all of us.

If the economy tightens, and if Gen Z is open to purchasing pre-owned products, and if used fashion sales are expected to double in five years, why won’t retailers and entrepreneurs apply the concept to other product categories, one of those being toys?

There are a lot of toys out there sitting in boxes and stacked in attics, basements, and garages. We may just see people bypassing the yard sale route and selling their goods to retailers.

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