Since prices continue to rise, nearly half of Americans (48 percent) have taken a spending hiatus of at least two weeks within the past six months.
But for those who are looking for essential items, such as clothes and shoes, thrift shopping offers an alternative way to save on quality goods.
According to a recent survey conducted by TopCashback.com, the USA’s most generous cash back site, more than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) shop at thrift stores and 81 percent of Americans would consider buying refurbished or used items to save money.
The survey polled a cross-section of 2,593 adults, aged 18 and over.
And with 43 percent of Americans working overtime and/or finding side hustles to make extra money, finding ways to cut back on spending are more important now than ever. Here are five tips to score savings at thrift stores from Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback.com.
• Hold on to all “maybes.” One of the best parts of thrift shopping is finding unique items. And when you are thrift shopping, if you put an item down it becomes fair game for someone else to grab. If you are remotely interested in an item, hold onto it until you are absolutely certain you don’t want it.
• Look at the tags and fine print. If an item is made with natural fibers, like cotton, silk, wool, etc., it can be more durable and tends to be worth the purchase if it’s in good condition. Products like 100 percent cotton tops, wool sweaters and silk basics may be significantly discounted at thrift and secondhand stores whereas they may be triple the price (or even more) at a regular retailer.
Pro-tip: With vintage clothing becoming more and more popular, make sure the “vintage” item you’re purchasing is actually vintage. For example, a vintage graphic tee will likely have single-stitching on the hem and may even have fine print with the year the graphic was printed on it. And don’t be afraid to research the brand. Do a quick online search to learn more about the brand if you’re curious to see when the item is from.
• Avoid items with tears and stains. Unless you are well-versed in stain removal and can repair any rips, try to avoid items with noticeable tears and stains. Especially with stains, the spot may never come out if the item is old and has been washed. Tears and stains are subjective, but if it’s something that’s significant and cannot be hidden it may be in your interest to leave the item on the shelf.
• Thrift online. While the thrill of thrift shopping may involve searching through racks and digging through bins, you can opt to shop from the comforts of your own home instead. Sites like eBay, Etsy, ThredUP and Thrilling, as well as apps like Poshmark and Depop, make it easy to find decades-old styles all online. And depending on the store, you can score discounts, points and other offers.
• Don’t go in with a plan. If you head into a thrift store with a plan or only browse for a specific item in mind, you may be closing yourself off to the other racks and possibilities of unique finds.
Pro-tip: Browse every area of the store. Things get moved around often and you may find some hidden gems on racks and shelves. Plus, people may hide their “good finds” in unsuspecting areas of the store to return to later (big mistake, but it happens).