Study: The US found to be the best country for thrift shopping

Study: The US found to be the best country for thrift shopping

When Macklemore released his song ‘Thrift Shop’ in 2012, glamorizing second-hand shopping and the valuable pieces one can find if they are dedicated enough to the art of thrifting, it’s unlikely that he foresaw the massive uptick in pre-loved fashion shopping. No longer viewed as a shopping option for people with low incomes, over the last decade, thrifting has surged in popularity, particularly among Gen Z, driven by growing concerns over the ethical and environmental impacts of fast fashion production. Further catalyzed by events like the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which exposed unsafe conditions and unethical treatment of garment workers, this prompted a global conversation about sustainable production and consumption. 

Today, Gen Zers around the globe remain notably more concerned with climate change. Consequently, thrift shipping has become a favored option for those seeking affordable, ethical, and sustainable fashion choices. But which country has cultivated the best thrift shopping culture, you may wonder? With second-hand shopping growing around the world, a recent study from global online footwear brand Public Desire aimed to shine a light on where thrifting is the most popular – and the results may surprise you. 

Public Desire study ranks the top countries with the best thrift shopping culture

The study, which examined several factors, including the number of thrift stores, the size of the resale market, the yearly expansion of second-hand businesses, and consumer engagement, found that the United States has the best second-hand clothes culture in the world. 

“The USA tops the list with the best second-hand clothes culture in the world,” states the study findings. “It ranks the highest not only with an impressive 3,110,000 online searches for thrift shops but also with the biggest resale market valued at 39 billion USD. The USA has 28,849 thrift stores, the second highest number on the ranking. Notably, 93 percent of the population is engaged in online second-hand shopping, making the USA a leader in this sector.”

Thrift shopping on the rise globally Credits: Noemie Roussel via Unsplash

Following the United States, the United Kingdom was ranked as the second largest thrift shopping culture, with the British thrift market valued at 3.3 billion USD with 4,082 thrift stores. The UK second-hand market notably was found to have an impressive annual growth rate of 27.2 percent, the highest recorded, with 70 percent of its population engaging in second-hand purchases, underlying the country’s strong commitment to engaging in more sustainable fashion practices.

Unsurprisingly, Sweden ranked third globally, with a second-hand market valued at 8.81 billion USD. With 75 percent of its population having purchased second-hand items at least once and a steady annual growth rate of 2.04 percent, the Scandinavian country demonstrates a strong and thriving culture of sustainable shopping.

The Netherlands took fourth in the global ranking with 4,326 thrift stores and a robust resale market worth 622 million USD. The country showcases a flourishing thrift culture, with 73 percent of its population actively participating in second-hand shopping and experiencing a healthy annual growth rate.
Japan, ranking fifth, boasts the highest number of thrift stores globally, with a staggering 483,000. With a resale market valued at 18 billion USD, the second largest after the USA, Japan demonstrates a significant thrift culture. Despite only 30 percent of the population participating in second-hand shopping, the extensive network of stores underscores a well-established culture of thrift in the country.

Thrift shoppping
Thrift shoppping Credits: Becca Mchaffie via Unsplash

“The rise of second-hand shopping is a testament to a global shift towards sustainable consumerism,” commented a spokesperson from Public Desire on the study in a statement. “As shown in this study, countries like the USA, the UK, and Japan are leading the way with impressive numbers in both market size and public participation. This growing trend not only reflects a conscious effort to reduce waste and promote sustainability but also highlights the economic benefits of a thriving resale market.”

Germany ranked sixth with 11,600 thrift stores and a market valued at 3.1 million USD, showing a slight annual decline of 1.10 percent yet maintaining a strong 75 percent of its population active in second-hand shopping. Canada came in seventh place, with a 2.6 billion USD second-hand market with 2,823 stores and significant online interest, evidenced by 242,000 searches for local thrift shops and half its population participating in sustainable shopping. 

Denmark, taking the eighth position, saw 84 percent of its populace buying second-hand, underscoring a strong commitment to second-hand fashion despite a smaller market. Austria, ranked ninth, leads with 85 percent of its population engaged in thrift shopping, supported by over 1,000 stores and a growth rate of 1.90 percent. Finally, Belgium, in tenth place, showcases a solid commitment to thrifting, with a 500 million USD market and 2,263 thrift stores, with half its population involved in purchasing second-hand clothing.

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