With bottlenecks in clothing chains beating clothing manufacturers and inflation squeezing buyers, it may now seem like it’s time for used clothing sellers. The market doesn’t quite see it that way.
Elite shipper RealReal REAL -4.34%
on Tuesday reported that sales through its platform, known as gross value of goods, rose 31% in the first quarter from a year earlier, better than Wall Street expected. Gross profit grew by 35%. ThredUp,
which sells more generic brands, said on Monday during a call on earnings that over the same period, revenue grew 31%, in line with analysts’ expectations. Gross profit growth of 26% was better than expected, thanks to improved logistics as the company became better at consolidating orders before shipping them.
While both companies spent a decent first quarter, they painted a completely different picture of the health of their customer base: low- and middle-income consumers seem to compromise between goods and experiences, but those with more money are just hunting for valuable transactions.
ThredUp CEO James Reinhart said in the company’s earnings report that there are “many destructive forces” that force consumers to spend cautiously on clothing, including the war in Ukraine, sharp inflation and a general shift in travel and experience. As a result, thredUp slightly lowered its forecasts for the full year, expecting revenue growth of 27% on average compared to the previous growth target of 33%. Meanwhile, RealReal has left its forecast for the year intact. He expects revenue to grow by about 39% this year.
RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright said the demand for luxury items is steady. The bottom line is that RealReal is starting to sell more clothing, the price of which is usually lower than fine jewelry or bags, but leads to a higher rate for the company.
Shares of ThredUp fell 59% since the beginning of the year, while shares of RealReal fell 62%. That’s a steeper drop compared to even a mature, struggling Gap clothing retailer,
which decreased by 32%. The resale category is still small and has room for growth, but it probably doesn’t help that markets have recently been unfavorable to unprofitable technology companies with high growth targets. In addition, both are managed trading platforms that process goods, authenticate them in the case of RealReal, and sell and ship on behalf of their customers. All of these steps could increase the pressure on profitability as long as inflation remains high. But behind the hazy short-term perspective are two companies that still see healthy growth in the number of active buyers and a strong competitive system in the form of a scalable system for processing and selling used items on behalf of their customers.
After a sharp sell-off, the prices of both ThredUp and RealReal traded at or below their respective sales for 12 months, putting their valuation lower due to TJX Cos’s retail. and in the Gap area. It is difficult to predict which direction consumer sentiment will go, but at these stock prices thredUp and RealReal look like cheap bets.
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