Why Both Macy’s and JCPenney Teamed Up With ThredUp — in Less Than 24 Hours

In less than 24 hours, two major department store chains forged a partnership with online consignment giant ThredUp.

Yesterday, Macy’s announced during its second-quarter conference call that it had launched a pilot with the resale site at 40 of its stores across the country. And today, JCPenney said that 30 of its locations would soon offer a selection of ThredUp’s secondhand women’s apparel and accessories to be curated weekly.

“With the rise of online resale markets, there’s no doubt that demand for great value on quality brands is at an all-time high,” said JCPenney EVP and chief merchant Michelle Wlazlo. “We’re excited about the prospect of creating a new in-store experience that makes high-end brands attainable, as well as catering to eco-minded consumers who want more sustainable options in their wardrobe.”

Meanwhile, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said, “We’re also testing opportunities in both re-commerce and rental to tap into the changing customer behavior, especially among millennial and Generation Z consumers. … We know many consumers are passionate about sustainable fashion and shopping resale.”

As an increasing number of millennial and Gen Z shoppers keep a closer eye on their carbon footprints, the rental and resale markets have enjoyed a steady boom. According to ThredUp’s 2019 Fashion Resale Market trend report, the resale market is worth $24 billion today and is expected to hit $51 billion by 2023 — growing 21 times faster than traditional retail over the past three years.

“The resale customer is no longer somebody else’s customer, they are everybody’s customer,” said ThredUp co-founder and CEO James Reinhart. “Mass market or luxury, if people can find a high-quality product for much less, they’ll choose used.”

But it’s not just Macy’s and JCPenney dipping their toes into the resale space. In April, Neiman Marcus took a minority stake in online consignment market Fashionphile, which specializes in pre-owned designer handbags and accessories. It became the first major luxury retailer to directly invest in resale, with its stores serving as drop-off points for customers’ pre-owned pieces and shoppers then receiving payment that can be used to shop at the department store.

With more and more customers making the case for high-end goods at nonluxury prices, a number of secondhand sellers are looking to cater to these shifting demands. And although thrift shops and even pioneering e-commerce platform eBay have been around for some time, the new batch of resale marketplaces present shoppers with a treasure hunt experience that isn’t easily replicated at traditional retail stores — from providing limited assortments at lower-than-retail prices to offering fresh and rotating merchandise on a near-daily basis.

“These moves certainly reflect the fact that younger consumers don’t feel that everything they buy needs to be new. They are very open to purchasing pre-owned fashion for both financial and environmental reasons,” said Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at The NPD Group Inc. “It’s already clear that the challenge will be how to differentiate if other retailers continue this trend of partnering up with resellers.”

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