Thrift Shop Sizes Increase

There was a time when skinny people found the best clothing selection in thrift shops. That has changed in the last five years.

It is easy to explain how secondhand clothing tends toward smaller sizes. As people gain weight, they can no longer wear the same clothing. They may donate clothing of one size while purchasing clothing of the next larger size. If you imagine the donations and purchases occurring in the same shop, the result is more smaller clothing and less larger clothing in inventory.

For years, this pattern worked to the benefit of people who wore the smallest adult sizes, particularly women who wore misses’ sizes 0–6.

But this is no longer the case. There is no longer much to choose from in these smaller sizes. Sizes 0–6 account for about one tenth of the clothing in thrift shops now. The best selection is found in sizes 10–16.

The same effect can be seen on the men’s side of the store, where there are hardly any choices in waist sizes smaller than 32 inches. Today, a man with a 36 inch waist will find the broadest selection in a thrift shop.

Thrift shops sell what people donate, and there are not so many people now to donate the smaller sizes. What few items there are in the small sizes sell quickly, leaving the racks relatively empty.

It may also be that the tendency to gain weight over time has diminished. With more people holding at the same weight for years at a time, there are fewer closet-clearing events and fewer carloads of clothing donations.

The quality of thrift shop clothing has gone up in the last quarter century so that now, as many as one tenth of items bear tags showing that they have never been worn. It is people whose body size is slightly below average, which means those who are slightly overweight, who will benefit the most from the improved secondhand clothing inventory.

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