The Potential Impacts of an Economic Recession on Thrift Stores

With thrifting on the rise, more people are spending frugally and saving what they have. One would think that this would be a great thing for the thrift industry, right? Yes, and no.

In today's article I am going to explain to you a problem caused by an economic recession that could potentially impact the world of thrift: supply shortages.

The Problem

During tough economic times people tend to save money in many ways, one of which being decreased spending on superfluous purchases. The fact is this, the cost of goods is continuing to rise while the economy continues to fall. Clothing, upgraded furniture, and other luxury expenses will become unaffordable (if not already) to the average worker and therefore be an unnecessary expenditure. Why spend money on clothing when gas, electrical bills, and other necessities are piling up?

Okay, I get it. People may not want to buy clothing at retail stores, that's a good thing for thrift stores, isn't it?

Not so fast. While people may be turning to thrift stores to make their clothing and household purchases, they will not be so quick to get rid of the things in their closet. If we hold onto what we have, we won't really need to get more, right? Here lies the problem.

Thrift Store Supply Shortages

While it may be a great idea to shop at thrift stores, we need to remain mindful of how they get their supplies; from us! In today's day and age, we have become so engrossed with spending, buying, accumulating, and storing. What happens when we hit a hard recession that forces us to hold onto what we have? We make the decision to hold onto that old couch for a couple more years instead of upgrading and donating the old one to a non-profit.

Thrift stores will suffer. They rely so heavily upon us to supply their stores with donations. Those donations essentially turn into charitable organizations being funded when they sell their inventory to the general public. What we will be faced with (and already are beginning to see) is a recession that underserves donations to thrift stores. You can't sell what you don't have!

Without consumer spending going to non-profit thrift stores, many services available to those in need will suffer greatly. Aids relief, funding for jobs for people with disabilities, housing services, and a myriad of other publicly funded services will take the hit as well. Of course, this is a terrible situation.

I'm not trying to be Mr. Doomsday prepper or trying to convince you that the world is coming to an end. I'm simply reminding you that there is an entire industry of charitable organizations that are funded from our contributions; both buying and donating. We need to wake up to the possibilities of the near future!

The Answer

I recently read an article (I can't remember the source) that was outlining several thrift stores in the Pittsburgh area significantly impacted by the recession-hoarding mentality. They are suffering from lack of inventory because people in the community are holding onto what they have, as opposed to donating it and keeping the thrift ecosystem in motion. My answer to the problem is simple.

Switch the consuming mentality from buying new to buying used. I know a lot of you reading this article will already be on board with this. I am hoping that those who find buying used garments and household items "repulsive" will find under-served charities more repulsive.

You, as a privileged American citizen (assuming you live in the US) can feel the same comforts in having something that is "new" when you purchase second-hand. We thrifters call it "new-to-you." Now, you can upgrade or replace what you have with something new-to-you and donate what you no longer need. Trust me when I say it feels just as good, if not better. Thus, saving the charitable organizations from supply shortages and simultaneously supporting a good cause that benefits those in need.

You're welcome.

-Much love, Ian Drake- Diversity Consignment

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.