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Thrift shop business booms as inflation throttles American bank accounts

FOX News logo FOX News 8/11/2022 Emma Colton
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Thrift shop businesses are booming this year, with many owners of the shops pointing to sky-high inflation that is strangling the pocketbooks of Americans.  

"We're up maybe 30 percent over last year and last year was a pretty good year," Scott Freedman, the founder of the children’s resale store Lots for Tots in Maine, told WGME. 

The store is one of many across the country reporting an uptick in sales this summer, as inflation strangles pocketbooks. In Louisiana, charitable organizations and thrift store owners said business did well during the pandemic, but really skyrocketed this summer. 

"Certainly, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been busy, but over the course of the last two months, there are numbers that we haven’t seen in quite a while," Michael Acaldo, president and CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Baton Rouge, told the Advocate this month. 

INFLATION CLIMBED 8.5% IN JULY AS PRICES COOL BUT REMAIN NEAR RECORD HIGH

People sift through used clothes that are sold by the pound at a Goodwill Outlet Center on July 27, 2022 in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Spencer Platt/Getty Images People sift through used clothes that are sold by the pound at a Goodwill Outlet Center on July 27, 2022 in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Consumer prices soared 9.1% in June compared to the year prior, which notched a new 40-year high for inflation after months of rising costs. Inflation slowed in July, with the consumer price index rising 8.5% last month from a year ago, but prices remain near 40-year highs. 

Consumers who have tightened their spending amid the inflation woes and have turned to thrift stores to find necessities that don’t break the bank. 

"Buying things retail right now is just like throwing your money away," thrifter Alecia McCray told the Advocate.

For Freedman’s store in Maine, they have a "formula" where they slash used products by 50% compared to the new product sale price. 

THRIFT STORES SEE A BOOST IN SALES AMID HIGH INFLATION

"We have a formula that if it sells for $100 new, we price it at $50," Freedman told WGME. "If that same product now is going for $120 new, we price it at $60."

A consignment shop near Freedman’s Lots for Tots store reported that they have seen business increase since the pandemic, with inflation propelling their sales even more. The business is also seeing a change in its clientele base. 

"Since COVID, we actually got busier than what we were together, and with inflation, we got busier as well just because people don't want to go to the mall and spend you know, $100 on a pair of jeans," The Fashion Gods Co-Owner Vanessa Mooers told WGME.

Business is expected to increase as back-to-school season picks up steam this month and parents look for more affordable gear for their kids. 

"I like to look for the best prices, but I feel that coming here, it’s just so well worth it for the money, for my gas time," Texas teacher and mom Patricia Hernandez told KSAT earlier this month while thrift shopping before the first day of school.

IS THE UNITED STATES ENTERING A RECESSION?

The manager of San Antonio store Thrift City told KSAT said more families have been shopping at the establishment over the last few weeks, with the top-purchased items being shoes and clothing.  

"They say, ‘I’m shopping here more than I was before because prices just keep going up’ and they can’t keep up with it, especially if they have more than one child," Melissa Tullos said. "Buying a lot of clothing, a lot of shoes as well. Shoes have gotten very expensive, everything kind of has."

HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND - JUNE 21: A thrift store is operated by the Hope Center on June 21, 2022 in Hagerstown, Maryland. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Spencer Platt/Getty Images HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND - JUNE 21: A thrift store is operated by the Hope Center on June 21, 2022 in Hagerstown, Maryland. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty Images

For now, experts don’t expect inflation to drastically ease in the near future, which could allow for thrift shops to continue seeing booming business. 

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"I think there’s probably a 50% chance we are already in a recession," Acadiana business economist with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Gary Wagner, told the Advocate. "I think the odds are that we’re going to end up nationally in a recession in the second half of this year. I think there are too many economic indicators that deteriorated rapidly in the last couple of months."

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