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Thrift Shift: Md. Shops Expect Holiday Sales Boost

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

SHANTE╔ WOODARDS
The Capital

ODENTON, Md. (AP) — Most shopping days, Jean Simmons looks for the St. John or Jones New York line.

Her habit had been to go to the mall and spend as much as $200 for her designer purchases. Then she would wear a piece of clothing a few times and get rid of it. Now, the Crofton resident opts for consignment shopping. This way, she saves money and doesn’t have to change her behavior.

“It’s still the same quality and it’s in absolutely good condition and it’s very clean … it’s like they’re new,” said Simmons, who was browsing at Oasis Consignments in Odenton. “I can turn in my things and get something. It’s like a trade off, so it’s a savings.”

The National Retail Federation anticipates a conservative holiday shopping season this year as consumers deal with economic uncertainty. The organization expects shoppers to be more budget conscious and spend just under $740 on gifts this year, a 2 percent decrease from last year. That could be a boon to the resale industry, which capitalizes on customers looking for a discount.

“We’ve been progressively busier since the season began to change,” said Alexis Davis, who runs Oasis Consignments with Debra Hoffmaster. “We don’t see a reason for our trend to change. Our business is responding to the larger economy. If the larger economy is getting dismal, they’re coming our way.”

The resale industry earns annual revenues of about $13 billion and the number of stores has increased 7 percent a year.

“A lot of the stores do expect to be busier this year because of people cutting back,” said Adele Meyer, executive director of NARTS: The National Association of Resale Professionals. “Consumers are much more open to buying at consignment or resale shops during the holidays.”

In the United States, there are more than 25,000 resale, consignment and not-for-profit resale shops, according to NARTS.

One recent example of the economy’s impact on the resale industry was the two-week government shutdown. The thousands of furloughed workers — more than 41,000 in Anne Arundel County — who couldn’t do their jobs cost the government $24 billion and also hurt businesses that provided services to this workforce. But the time off from work gave them a chance to clean out their closets and spend some cash, area consignment shops said.

In Deale, the staff of Second Wind Consignments expected things to be slow because customers wouldn’t want to spend money. But the opposite proved to be true, as many customers opted to shop for a discount or sell their own goods, owner Teri Leisersohn said.

The shop sells home furnishings, housewares, hardware and other items.

“We were overwhelmed with incoming merchandise,” Leisersohn said. “It was a weird byproduct of the thing. And these were people who did have spending money. Somebody told me it was retail therapy without the guilt. … We get a lot of people who come in and do that kind of thing. I do it on my day off.”

Jan Nuscher, who runs Fancypants Consignment Boutique in Annapolis, had similar results with the shutdown. The shop has had increased business since September and has needed to have two workers there each day. She anticipates similar results going into the holidays.

“People have got the mindset now that it’s not embarrassing to say, `I got this outfit at a consignment store,”‘ Nuscher said. “We’ve had some record days and this is (about) two months before Christmas.”

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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