JCPenney To Sell Secondhand Clothing

Shoppers leave the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside
(Photo: REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski)

JC Penney Company, one of the largest apparel and home retailers in the United States, announced that it will begin selling secondhand women's clothing and handbags from thredUP. The latter currently dominates the online consignment market, offering preloved designer brands. The preloved luxury items will be available in 30 JCPenney stores with items to be refreshed weekly. 

thredUp has been at the forefront of the secondhand retail, reinventing resale with technology and promote a more sustainable fashion future. The platform resells preloved 35,000 brands which include Gap and Gucci among other high-end fashion names which it sells at up to 90 percent off retail prices. 

Secondhand retail has been growing in the past year with a recent report estimating the market to be $51 billion in 5 years, up from $24 billion in 2018. The significant push for the market will be coming from the women with 64 percent of them willing to buy or already buying secondhand products.

The biggest driver of the secondhand market at present are the Gen Ys and GenZs, and some of the Boomers. Another driver is the consumers' desire to buy clothes that are ethically and sustainably created. 

With this trend, thredUP said the secondhand market will be larger than fast fashion in the next 10 years. Fast fashion was worth $35 billion in 2018. One estimate valued the secondhand market $64 billion in the next ten years while fast fashion is predicted to only rise to $44 billion. 

JCPenney's move into the secondhand market follows Macy's which was announced this month. Macy and thredUP will be jointly selling preloved clothing in 40 Macy's stores. 

Other retailers that have jumped in ahead of JCPenny were Neiman Marcus through its minority stake in Fashionpile LLC. The latter is a secondhand e-commerce seller of luxury handbags and accessories. 

H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, which for several times has been criticized for its bulk and seasonal fast fashion releases, has been testing a secondhand platform with Sellpy. The latter is a Swedish secondhand platform similar to thredUp. 

Patagonia and REI, meanwhile, have also begun selling secondhand items. The two are famous for their initiatives promoting the environment and encouraging people to engage in outdoor activities. 

Some market observers said that JCPenney's dive into secondhand retail is its last-ditch effort to salvage its tumbling revenue. In February, JCPenney announced the closure of its nine locations to focus on its more profitable locations. The retailers also said it could close more stores in 2020. JCPenney reported net income for the quarter ended February of $75 million, compared with $242 million last year. 

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