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Thrift shopping gaining traction in clothing industry

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Chloe Hislop | The Daily Wildcat A colorful rack of vintage jackets and shirts for sale at Sids Vintage.They sell hats, T-shirts and jackets.

Thrifting has provided an outlet for those looking for activity during the pandemic, both nationally and here in Tucson. 

Thredup is an online thrift store that uses data from GlobalData to conduct annual reports about the resale and thrift markets within the overall clothing sector. According to the 2020 report, traditional thrift stores are projected to grow 34% between 2019 and 2024. Resale is projected to grow 414% within the same period while all retail clothing is projected to decline by 4%.

Jessica Pruitt, the marketing associate manager at Buffalo Exchange, has noticed an increase in thrift shopping over the past several years. 

“In general, it’s increasing in popularity and I think during the pandemic people have been really more budget conscious,” Pruitt said. “I think a lot of people sort of want to update their wardrobes to suit their current lifestyles."

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Buffalo Exchange has seen an increase in casual, comfortable clothing like sweatpants, leggings, sneakers, hoodies and sweatshirts. 

“We’ve also seen a lot of really fun new ways that those are being styled," Pruitt said. "People are sort of taking athleisure pieces and up-styling them. Like whether you’re adding a blazer or a sweater vest or something interesting that makes it feel fancy but super comfortable as well." 


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Vintage hats on display for sale at Sids Vintage located at 1832 E Sixth St. in Tucson, Arizona. The store sells sourced vintage apparel.


According to Pruitt, people are not shopping as much in general but thrift shopping has become more prominent.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the clothing industry, in general, has seen a decline that hit its worst during March, April and May of 2020. This sect of the industry suffered declines of 49.8%, 87.3% and 62.4% of retail sales during these months compared to the same months in 2019, according to Statista. 

Consumers, along with the industries, are currently dealing with financial concerns. According to Thredup, four in five people said they were open to shopping secondhand when money gets tight. Pruitt also attributed this to the increase. 

Margaret LaMantia, a senior at the University of Arizona, sees thrift shopping as something fun to do in a time where normal activities are restricted. 

“It’s different than going to the mall and being exposed to a bunch of people. It’s more of a fun activity and there’s always good finds,” LaMantia said.

Both Pruitt and LaMantia recognized the environmental benefits associated with secondhand shopping. LaMantia attributed that to her passion.

“I think recently over the pandemic period, people became more conscious not just of their own health but the health of our world, and shopping secondhand tends to be a lot better for the environment,“ LaMantia said.

The rise in thrift shopping could be a challenge in particular since the clothing is bought and sold secondhand. Buffalo Exchange has changed their selling process. 

Sellers can now make an appointment instead of waiting in lines. They can also send their clothes to the store by mail for free. Pruitt thought the popularity of this program could be attributed to more people being at home cleaning and organizing.

LaMantia has been more conscious about what she is buying and how she is washing it especially the first time. 

“I’m making sure it stays in the bag and I’m not getting my hands all over it at first,” LaMantia said. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/17)
1,335 23 1.7%
Total (8/2)
22,564 434 1.9%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 18, 2021