Outdoor gear retailers Dick’s, Patagonia, and REI eye massive opportunities in resale

The news: Outdoor apparel and gear retailers are pushing deeper into the resale market.

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods and its Public Lands brand launched an in-store buyback program for outdoor items in a handful of markets.
  • REI is expanding its Re/Supply trade-in program to all of its 174 retail stores by mid-year. The program launched last year and is also available online.
  • Lululemon athletica recently expanded its Like New trade-in and resale program nationwide.
  • Those efforts are in line with brands like Patagonia that already have programs in place to allow customers to trade in items at any of their stores or via the mail.

More on this: Outdoor gear retailers see the massive opportunity afforded by consumers’ growing interest in pre-owned items.

  • By expanding its inventory of pre-owned items, REI expects to boost its already strong sales in the channel. The retailer’s pre-owned sales grew 86% in 2021.

We expect sales on online fashion resale platforms will represent 10.0% of all US ecommerce apparel and accessories sales by the end of 2025.

Building the market: The growing number of retailers entering the space will build awareness and interest in secondhand goods.

  • More retailers accepting trade-ins should expand the selection of available secondhand items, which will attract more consumers to resale.
  • Resale programs create a flywheel effect, as buyers become sellers and vice versa. For example, Poshmark and thredUP have both reported that nearly half of their sellers are also buyers.

Staying on brand: Sustainability is at the heart of the brand positioning for outdoor names such as Patagonia, The North Face, and REI.

  • That puts greater importance on ensuring their efforts are authentic. Patagonia and The North Face were among the top-ranked brands in Kearney’s Circular Fashion Index, which measures a brand’s efforts to extend the life cycle of a product on both the primary and secondary markets.
  • REI is also expanding the lifespan of products via gear rentals. Nearly 100,000 customers rented gear at REI last year, the retailer said.

The big takeaway: The timing is right for outdoor gear brands to make significant moves into resale.

  • Supply chain challenges are making new products harder to find and more expensive.
  • At the same time, the discretionary incomes of Gen Z and younger millennials—the two demographic groups most interested in, and committed to, sustainability—is on the rise.
  • If retailers can deliver a strong customer experience—both on the trade-in and purchase ends of the transaction—they could create a significant channel that could drive long-term growth.