For Czechs, buying second-hand goods is generally taboo and although second-hand shops are not uncommon, few people readily admit to shopping there.
“People usually only share their enjoyment of buying second-hand clothes with a circle of family and close friends,” concludes a 2019 study of Czechs’ shopping habits, authored by analyst Marketa. Rulikova.
“Failing to wear new (and branded) clothes also suggests, for many Czechs, an inability to support the family, an all-too-familiar distress reminiscent of the socialist past.”
But the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, complemented by soaring inflation and energy prices, has led to a second-hand buying frenzy.
“We’ve never had so much revenue as in the past few months,” says Monika van den Berg of Moment Czech Republic, an NGO that runs several charity thrift stores across the country.
Second-hand sales have tripled nationwide since last year, the Association of Social Responsibility, an industry body, told local media earlier this month.
What changed ? Some think it’s the taste. The Czechs are increasingly concerned about the environment while buying second-hand is often synonymous with quality.
“We think the boom is partly caused by our offer,” says van den Berg. “We sell the best quality clothes from very good brands because of the way we sort donated clothes.”
“The customer gets really good quality clothes for a minimum price,” she said. Because the clothes have been worn but are still in good condition, this is a sign of good material.
The most obvious factor, however, is cost.
Inflation has skyrocketed since the start of 2022. It reached 17.2% in June, the highest on record. Economists predict it could climb even higher.
At the same time, energy prices are also rising and there is a general feeling that things will get worse as winter approaches. In June, the Czechs were as pessimistic as they have been for more than a decade about the future of household consumption and savings, according to the OECD Consumer Confidence Index.
Naturally, more consumers have turned to used goods as they tighten household spending.
Clothing prices, for example, are currently up 19.9% and shoe prices 15.4% compared to last year, according to the latest data from the Czech Statistical Office.
“People in the Czech Republic are increasingly worried about their financial situation, trying to save every haler,” said Lukáš Kovanda, chief economist at Trinity Bank. “They particularly limit spending on non-essential items and clothing, clothing or footwear is one of them.”
“This trend will be even more pronounced in the coming months and quarters as the overall economic situation in the Czech Republic deteriorates further, which could lead to a considerable increase in (the) unemployment rate next year,” he said. -he adds.
But physical stores aren’t overrun with bargain hunters.
As people tighten their belts, companies are also making it easier to find second-hand bargains online. Many thrift stores now advertise their products on social media. Some have online stores. Traditional sellers of new and branded clothes are also entering the second-hand market.
In April 2021, Germany-based online retailer Zalando, which sells across Europe, launched the pre-owned category of its website in the Czech Republic.
By adding this section, “we can bridge the gap between fashion shopping fun, freshness and self-expression, as well as more sustainable fashion consumption and unparalleled convenience,” a Zalando representative told Euronews in a statement.
Since they launched the “used” section of the site across Europe in 2020, the category has grown from 20,000 to over 400,000 items, including in the Czech Republic, where “customer returns… have been very positive.”
Supply is also driving the second-hand boom.
In some cases, such as charity shops, goods are donated. Today, online platforms make it increasingly easy for people to sell their second-hand goods to other buyers, taking advantage of the rapid growth of the Czech Republic’s e-commerce market, which has seen a 14 % last year to reach a value of approximately 9.1 billion euros. , according to Heureka Group, one of the biggest price comparators in Europe.
In 2019, Czech entrepreneurs launched Knihobot, an e-commerce platform that allows people to buy and sell used books. In 2020, he made a profit of around €700,0000 crowns; last year it amounted to more than 3 million euros. According to the media, he is aiming for 12 million euros this year.
Economists call this “re-trade”. Inflation and rising household costs aren’t just creating more bargain hunters; they also get more people to sell their own products.
Vinted, a Lithuania-based online marketplace for buying, selling and exchanging goods, has around one million registered members using the Czech platform, which is believed to represent around one-tenth of the country’s population.
“Platforms like Vinted can be a good place for people to lessen the impact of inflation on their own pocket by selling things they no longer need, and we know people are motivated by the financial benefits. of the occasion, as well as the environmental aspects,” says Lilly Berns, Vinted’s public relations manager for Germany and Southern and Eastern Europe.
There is still room for expansion in the re-commerce sector.
Vinted, for example, recently connected customers in the Czech Republic and Poland, meaning people in both countries can now buy and sell their second-hand goods from each other.
It also added pet care and entertainment categories, “giving people more chances to sell and buy pre-loved lifestyle items,” their public relations manager said.
“Compared to the first-hand market, the second-hand fashion sector still has enormous growth potential, and we believe in its positive development, driven by more and more people around the world who choose everyday second-hand clothes,” she added.