Is thrifting online better than in person? 

Welcome back to my blog! 

Today, I thought I would unpack the pros and cons of online second-hand shopping, to try and understand if it is better than in person thrifting…


I spend a lot of time on my phone, so that coupled with my enthusiasm for thrifting makes me the perfect user of apps such as depop and vinted. I love the convenience of shopping on these apps, as you can filter the settings to tailor to your size, style and type of item you’re looking for. Most charity shops arrange their clothes rails by size or colour too, but due to the limited stock it can be hard to find what you want.

 The filtered settings online for second hand shopping makes it super easy to find what you like, as hundreds of clothes are available at the click of a button! It is quite the contrast to the endless scanning of clothes rails for one particular item, which you may or may not find after spending hours trawling through piles of clothes and visiting different charity shops. 

However, where’s the fun in looking up an item online and finding it straight away?

One thing which I really love about thrifting in person, is the hunt. It really does feel like a treasure hunt, especially if you are looking for a special something. If you love shopping, then this element of in person charity shopping is very important because once you find what you’re looking for the whole shopping experience becomes so satisfying and rewarding! 

Therefore, thrifting in person is the preferred thrifting method for those who love shopping, although online second-hand shopping is favoured by the majority for its functionality and for its ability to match users up with their coveted item in no time. 


In person thrifting remains superior to online thrifting when it comes to getting your value for money. I have found that most of the clothes for sale online reflect their similar RRP (unless they have been worn countless times or have a defect.) This can be frustrating, since second hand items should be considerably cheaper than buying new. High prices on online thrifting apps can discourage users from second hand shopping, especially when buying the same item new is only slightly more expensive or the same price. I have even seen before (on depop) people pricing their clothes higher than they cost are on the actual website, which is ridiculous! 

However, having said that, online thrifting apps do give you the option to send in offers to the seller to negotiate the price. Yet, there is no guarantee that the seller will accept the offer and so, the price may remain unchanged. In a charity shop setting, negotiations on price are disallowed. 

I also find that thrifting online can be extremely expensive due to high shipping costs (which the customer usually has to pay for) and with the necessity of the seller shipping your clothes, comes the risk of your clothes getting lost or ruined.

I haven’t experienced any shipping mishaps as a customer online, but as a seller I have. I sold a dress to a girl who was on holiday (although she hadn’t told me this) and so the parcel was delivered safely while she was away, but once she returned she could not find it. We ended up opening an online dispute on depop, which ended after a couple weeks when fortunately, the depop help team resolved the issue by refunding us both. This just goes to show, that online thrifting is not without risks and despite its supposed simplicity, it can actually cause a lot of stress and take up a lot of time when an incident like this occurs. 

Shipping can also take a long time and so, if you need the item urgently, going to a charity shop is better. Thrifting in store enables you to take your purchase home immediately to begin wearing. 

Something else to bear in mind, is that all your purchases made in store will go towards a charity, so your contribution will make a difference to someone’s life or help animals. Hence, not only are you helping contribute to a circular economy through buying second hand, you are also making a positive donation to an organisation (which is obviously not the case if you buy second hand online from an individual.)


Charity shopping is the real winner when it comes to assessing the condition of the item you want to purchase. Although you can request for more photos or closeups from an online seller, ultimately you cannot tell what condition the piece of clothing is in until you physically see it. When in person thrifting, you are able to see for yourself the quality of the clothes and check for faults.

I have personally had bad experiences with my online thrifting purchases, as many come not as described. Some have stains or defects, such as with the zip or with the straps. This is annoying as most of these issues are not described in the captions or photos and are also not reflected in the price of the clothing. The most frustrating consequence of this, is the inability to get a refund or organise a return, as many online second-hand sellers don’t allow this! If you enter a dispute with the seller, it is also not guaranteed that you will win it or receive a refund. 

More recently, I had a reaction to a dress I bought from vinted and I experienced itchiness all over my body. I think it must have been an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent on the dress. Definitely be mindful of this if you have allergies and however excited you are to receive your clothes, always wash them before trying them on! 

Online shopping apps do sell more branded or better-quality clothes though, since people will not part with a luxury or designer brand without receiving some monetary benefit. Few people will donate expensive clothes to charity shops and so, most clothes in thrifting stores tend to be of a lesser quality and are fast fashion. However, that’s not to say you can’t find some incredible steals in charity shops! I have found some amazing (and cheap) branded pieces when thrifting, so don’t let this put you off. It’s what makes thrifting all the more fun and gratifying.

Overall, I think thrifting in person is the clear winner. Not only are you able to get the shopping experience and have fun, but you are also able to assess the quality of a piece of clothing. This enables you to make the most informed decision when deciding to purchase an item of clothing or not. What’s more, you can find some incredible bargains and all of your money will go to a charity 🙂

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

Beth x

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