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Parents turn to thrift stores, secondhand shopping for back-to-school items as inflation impacts economy

According to a survey from U.S. News & World Report, 31.9% of back-to-school shoppers are planning to buy secondhand products this year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Parents are looking at all their options to save a dollar here and there for back-to-school shopping this year, and many are turning to thrift shopping.

According to a survey from U.S. News & World Report, 77% of Americans are moderately or very worried about paying for back-to-school expenses this year with inflation impacting the economy.

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Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is seeing back-to-school shoppers come out in numbers this year to its locations across the greater Charlotte area.

“There’s actually a recent retail survey that found saving money on clothes is the number one priority for shoppers right now, and so we know a lot of people are coming to Goodwill so that they can find those great items at a much more affordable price,” Samantha Story, director of brand experience for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, said.

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The survey from U.S. News & World Report found that many Americans are trying to find ways to save on back-to-school expenses, with 82.3% looking for sales, 56.2% shopping at different stores, 31.9% buying secondhand products, and more.

Cheyenne Haynes went to the Goodwill location in Gastonia to shop for back-to-school clothes for her nephews and sister.

“I decided to come here because they’re a lot cheaper than normal stores,” Haynes said. “You never know what you’re going to find. They have clothes for the whole family, and also, kids go through their clothes like super-fast.”

Story said prices on the essentials are much lower at Goodwill versus buying new items. She estimated an entire outfit for a child could cost between $10 to $15.

But Story said the appeal of secondhand items isn’t just in the cost.

“People are not only shopping for the fashions and the great finds and brand names that you can get at a lower cost but also just looking for opportunities to have something unique, something that isn’t just coming off-the-rack at a store that anyone else could have,” she added.

The Charlotte Baby and Kids Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group was created in 2015 by Virginia Murray as a space where parents can buy, sell, and trade anything kid-related. It has now grown to include more than 5,000 members.

Murray said the page has seen an uptick in traffic this year with inflation impacting families.

“I feel like it’s helping out moms in general,” Murray said. “They want to buy specific shoes, and they don’t want to pay full price. If you go on there, there’s bound to be something for your three-year-old that can run around and you can find… There’s more than one option, which is great.”

The page has everything from baby products to school clothing.

“I’ve been seeing a couple of posts about, ‘Hey, I have a whole set of uniforms for girls size 5. Is anyone interested?’” Murray said. “And a lot of the uniforms, as long as they’re not embroidered seem to be very universal.”

Murray said most people who post on the page are very transparent about the condition of the items they are selling. She encourages parents to try out thrifting or buying secondhand items if they haven’t before because there are good deals to be had.

Contact Kendall Morris at kmorris2@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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