No more regrets.
Fashion and gifting fails can be tinged with frustration and disappointment. Tired of seeing their sartorial blunders hanging in the closet, reminders that the items should have been returned for refunds, some consumers are thrifting the garments, with tags still attached, to online resale sites such as ThredUp.
The secondhand e-commerce site during the Christmas season processes about 2 million items, 200,000 of which are brand new. December sees five times more new-with-tags items sent to ThredUp. The e-tailer’s inventory in January becomes bloated with never-worn items, which increase by 34 percent as buyer’s remorse settles in.
About 30 percent of all holiday purchases are returned, according to a study by ThredUp, which has seen a twofold increase in clothing with tags in recent years. The phenomenon peaks after Black Friday, when ThredUp receives some 200,000 items with tags in tact, leading the secondhand web site to posit that consumers are divesting unwanted gifts or changing their minds about items they gifted to themselves.
Karen Clark, head of marketing at ThredUp, said last year’s Black Friday activity suggests impulse-buying. “It was interesting that we got a lot of trendy clothes,” she said. “We received a lot of cold-shoulder, lace and metallic garments. These trendier styles tend to have a higher rate of divestiture with consumers sending them to ThredUp with the tags attached. They may be thinking, ‘I’m going to try this style because its trendy,’ but then it doesn’t really work for them.
“The sell-through is incredible,” said Clark. “People are definitely buying new and used on ThredUp, but 22 percent of the products are coming to us with the tags still attached. There’s an overlap between the buyers and sellers, but it’s not 100 percent. There are people who are just buying and trying out new styles at a low-risk price.
“There can be a lot of reasons that garments are sent to ThredUp with tags,” Clark said. “It could be a style misrepresentation. It’s really hard to return an item if the brand has been discontinued.”
According to the study, 48 percent of consumers said the reason they didn’t return a product was that they didn’t have a gift receipt; 38 percent thought thrifting was easier than returning; 13 percent preferred cash, and 6 percent said the store had a strict return policy. ThredUp found the practice of re-gifting is waning, with 36 percent saying they hoard unwanted presents; 38 percent re-gift; 40 percent thrift, and 47 percent return.
BCBG Max Azria, Zara, Old Navy, Lauren Ralph Lauren and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti are among the brands whose new-with-tags items appear on the site. Denim with tags attached surged following Black Friday last year. Express, True Religion and J. Crew led the list of regretted impulse buys, with increases of 250, 150 and 145 percent, respectively.
Other brands with a high regret rate include Missguided, Eva Mendes by New York & Co., Lilly Pulitzer for Target, Kardashian Kollection and Fabletics. “Clothing from the Kardashian Kollection are among the most regretted purchases, with 26 percent of items sent to ThredUp unworn with the tags still attached,” Clark said, adding, “Everlane makes the best gift. Less than 1 percent of items are returned to ThredUp with tags attached.”
Classic styles such as scoop-neck tops, dark wash jeans, chambray and animal prints had better acceptance rates than trendier off-the-shoulder looks, coated jeans and lace and metallic items.
According to Clark, about 61 percent of sellers use their payouts from the ThredUp to upgrade to more expensive brands sold on the site. Only 39 percent buy items in a similar price range.
“In many ways, ThredUp is the only brand that knows what happens to clothing after it’s purchased,” said Clark. “We use the data we collect for personalization and other interesting things that we do for customers. We also use it to understand retail trends. In past years, we saw a surge of new-with-tag items. We dove in and did a little more analysis this year.”