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Survey: 3 in 5 Americans Comfortable Receiving Secondhand Items as Gifts

Secondhand gifts are no longer taboo. In fact, they may even be welcome.

In a recent YouGov poll of 1,276 American adults, three in five (61 percent) respondents said they would be comfortable receiving a secondhand item as a gift, particularly if it’s rare or one of a kind. Only 4 percent said they’d be “turned off” by a used gift of that nature.

Unsurprising, millennials and adult Gen Zers—the same ones who are driving the resale-market boom—are quicker to embrace secondhand giving than their forebears. Nearly half (49 percent) of 18-to-34-year-olds said they would give a used gift, compared with only 38 percent of those aged 55 and older.

The fairer sex is also a smidge more accepting of preowned gifts: 63 percent of women said they “felt fine” about receiving a secondhand item versus 59 percent of men.

The results dovetail with resale’s “broadly expanding appeal,” according to peer-to-peer resale app Mercari, which commissioned the survey. ThredUp, which bills itself as the “largest online consignment and thrift store,” has inked partnerships with everyone from buzzy brands like Madewell and Reformation to institutions such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s to promote secondhand apparel sales.

Penny pinching in an uncertain economy may be one reason for the rise. Another is a growing desire by consumers to consider the environmental and social impact of their purchases.

An October report by Accenture, for instance, noted a burgeoning trend of “responsible retail,” with 45 percent of 1,500 U.S. consumers saying they’re more likely to holiday-shop with retailers that address wider social issues through their business practices and working conditions.

Whatever the reason, resale’s ascent isn’t likely to end soon. Analytics firm GlobalData, which crunched the numbers for ThredUp, found that the apparel-resale market has ballooned 21 times faster than its retail counterpart over the past three years. It’s also estimated to more than double in value from $24 billion today to $51 billion in 2023.

For gift givers especially, resale offers the opportunity to stand out, says Mercari CEO John Lagerling.

“Store-bought gifts can be predictable and generic since there’s a limit to the variety provided at retail,” he said in a statement. “Gift shoppers on Mercari want something different, and our sellers post more than 150,000 new listings every day. There’s a deep variety of items across all categories, and fantastic deals as well. And you’re buying from another person, rather than from a faceless corporation.”