Thrift Stores in the US Industry Market Research Report Now Available from IBISWorld

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Unlike its effect on the vast majority of businesses, the Great Recession helped the Thrift Stores industry grow. Because it specializes in the sale of secondhand goods at very low prices, the drop in disposable income and hike in unemployment led many new customers to shop at thrift stores. As the economy turned a corner in 2011 and continues to improve slowly over 2012, though, the industry will come down from its strong recessionary performance. Over the next five years, revenue will fall as consumers turn to shopping for new goods at mass retailers like Walmart that can offer comparably low prices. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has added a report on the Thrift Stores industry to its growing industry report collection.

IBISWorld Market Research

IBISWorld Market Research

The recession led consumers to shop for cheaper goods, benefiting thrift stores

Due to its countercyclical nature, the Thrift Stores industry enjoyed a level of high demand during the recession. The industry sells secondhand goods at low prices and thus benefits from periods of weakened consumer purchasing power. During the five years to 2012, unemployment jumped to a high of 9.6%, while per capita disposable income declined for the first time in two decades. Furthermore, says IBISWorld industry analyst Nikoleta Panteva, “The United States' poverty rate increased from a pre-recessionary level of 13.0% of the population to a high of 15.3% in 2010.” As such, demand for low-priced housewares and apparel jumped up. IBISWorld estimates that industry revenue increased 14.2% in 2009, bringing the five-year average growth to 3.5% between 2007 and 2012.

The number of industry participants has also climbed during this period. “While most of the industry operates on a not-for-profit basis,” says Panteva, “some players do collect part of their sales as income.” As industry profit margins increased between 2007 and 2009, new entrants were enticed into the space. The number of establishments has therefore increased from 66,453 in 2007 to an estimated 77,192 in 2012, displaying a 3.0% average annual rate of entry. Little national expansion occurs for the majority of firms in the Thrift Stores industry. Major players like Goodwill Industries International, Savers Inc. and the Salvation Army National Corporation, on the other hand, have longstanding positions in the industry and operate across the United States.

However, as the economy recovers, the Thrift Stores industry suffers. Unemployment has begun to abate, falling to 8.5% in 2012, and per capita disposable income has inched up over the past three years. Consequently, industry revenue has declined an estimated 0.4% in 2011 and is expected to fall through 2012 to $9.5 billion. This trend is forecast to continue into the next five years as consumers move away from secondhand stores and toward traditional brick-and-mortar and internet-based retailers. Over the five years to 2017, industry revenue is anticipated to decline. Additionally, government regulations, such as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, may limit the type and amount of products that industry participants can accept, forcing them to change their product mix in the long run. For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Thrift Stores report in the US industry page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

This industry sells used merchandise and secondhand goods at a discount price (except motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts, boats and mobile homes). The goods sold by industry operators are either donated directly or purchased from an organization that received the items as donations. Examples of companies in this industry include the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalization & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-330-3772.

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Gavin Smith
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