Celebrating National Thrift Shop Day: when are their busiest days?

In this article:

  • How much money do thrift shops make on a typical day?
  • Which days of the week are biggest for thrift stores?
  • The busy (and slow) seasons for thrift stores
  • The biggest days of the year for thrift stores (and what about National Thrift Shop Day?)
  • How to make the most out of busy (or slow) seasons if you own or manage a thrift store

National Thrift Shop Day (August 17, annually) gives us the opportunity to consider how valuable these types of retailers are to the American economy, and to the American consumer. 

Resale, consignment and not-for-profit resale shops account for multi-billion-dollar annual sales revenue in the U.S. For example, Goodwill alone pulls in nearly $6B per year. 

Attract and keep more local customers with small business software specifically built for brick-and-mortar shops. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

According to consumer research firm America’s Research Group, roughly 18% of Americans shop at a thrift store during any given year. That’s more than factory outlet malls (11.4%) and nearly the same number as shop in apparel stores and major department stores (19.6% and 21.3%, respectively). 

Let’s have a look at what the typical day looks like for one of these shops.

How much do thrift shops make on an average day throughout the year?

First, we looked at the average number of transactions thrift stores processed throughout the year, what the average ticket price was for each transaction, and how much revenue each shop brought in. 

Here’s what we found:

On any given day, the typical thrift store in our study processed 28 transactions with a $28.11 average ticket size, and earned $774 in revenue. 

Of course, it’s important to remember that these numbers are averages, as the busiest thrift stores in our sample averaged over 100 transactions per day, while the slowest shops averaged just a handful of daily transactions.

What are the biggest days of the week for thrift shops?

Now that we have an idea of an average day for thrift stores, let’s look at a typical week and see what days perform best.

Saturday is clearly the biggest day of the week, with 22% of weekly revenue coming in on that day alone. Fridays are the next biggest day, while weekdays remain fairly busy—with over 50% of weekly revenue coming in on Monday through Thursday.

Only 39% of thrift shops in our study remain open on Sundays, making it by far the slowest day of the week overall.

But, as you can see thrift shops who do stay open on Sundays are actually quite busy, as Saturday’s 35 average transactions are nearly equalled by Sunday’s 34 average transactions. One possible explanation for this is that these thrift stores may be more likely to be located in big cities and urban centers.

The average ticket price per purchase follows the general trend throughout the week also, with a relatively stable week followed by a clear jump in ticket price starting on Friday and moving into the weekend.

What time of the year do thrift shops make the most money?

It’s clear that the weekend is the busy time for thrift stores, but what about certain weeks and months throughout the year? Are there periods during the year that could be considered “the busy season” for thrift shops?

To answer this question we looked at the data in two ways: first, by examining how busy these stores were according to the percentage of annual transactions by week, and next by focusing on average ticket price per week throughout the year.

Looking at this graph you can see that the first months of the year are relatively slow (as in many retail businesses), with a relatively stable spring and summer month period, before a clear spike in transactions near the end of October.

Why would this be the case? Halloween! 

It appears bargain hunters hit their local thrift stores in the weeks leading up to the holiday for costumes, party favors, decorations, and whatever else they can find. 

Interestingly, when we look at the next graph, we can see that the average ticket price actually declines around the same period.

The trend line shows average ticket price is highest during the holiday season, second highest at the first half of the year, and tapers slowly downward through summer and fall. 

Average ticket price hits its low point for the year in October, suggesting that, while busy where number of transactions are concerned, thrift stores may attract more thrifty customers during the Halloween season. 

What are the biggest days of the year for thrift shops?

When we look at the top days of the year for transaction volume at thrift stores across the country, October is clearly the busiest time of the year, with 4 of the 5 top days coming in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Labor day is also huge, though, coming in as the second busiest day of the year.

When we look at the days when average ticket price is highest, however, the numbers tell a very different story.

November is overall when thrift store customers spend the most per transaction, with 3 out of the 5 top days coming in that month. 

However, the top day of the year by this metric is December 22, with Mother’s Day weekend placing 2nd. This suggests, perhaps, that shoppers are more likely to spend a bit extra on those last-minute gifts.

How big is National Thrift Shop Day?

National Thrift Shop Day is always August 17, which last year came on a Friday (which is the second biggest day of the week for thrift shops). 

So was National Thrift Shop Day big for local thrift stores across the country? Well, as far as average revenue and transactions go, it’s just another typical day at local thrift shops. 

The stores in our study averaged 27 transactions at an average ticket price of $28.02 on National Thrift Shop Day last year (nearly matching the numbers from a typical day throughout the year). This made it the 70th biggest day of the year overall and the 18th biggest Friday.

So while National Thrift Shop Day is effective at celebrating the economic and social contributions made by these types of stores, it hasn’t quite translated to more sales at local thrift stores.

If you own or manage a thrift shop: here’s how to get the most out of the busy season, and get more customers when things slow down

If you own or manage a thrift store and you want to give your business a shot in the arm, check out our list of 25 free local advertising ideas for small businesses, and use those tips to get your store on the lips—and on the touchscreens—of more potential customers looking for your unique deals and products.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the busy season by working to get more reviews (check out our guide on how to get more reviews), capturing customer info and email addresses when possible, and monitoring and improving your online reputation. 

As you make these efforts, you will have more customers coming back to spend with you during the months things usually start to slow down.

Check out our helpful guides:

Finally, learn about how Womply’s reputation management software helps make this process easier while saving you time and money. 

Womply has helped local businesses like yours increase revenue by an average of 20% and get 22% more repeat customer visits, while saving an average of 10 hours of work per week. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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