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Industry News

Retailers step up as more shoppers opt to rent rather than buy

June 11, 2019

The notion of renting rather than buying used to be viewed as an option for the low-income consumer — but no longer. Younger people with disposable income are choosing to rent everything from clothing to coffee tables to Dyson vacuum cleaners.

“They don’t necessarily want to commit, but they have disposable income, and they want nice brands and … nice furniture, and they appreciate good design,” said Neela Montgomery, Crate & Barrel’s CEO, at a conference in March, according to The New York Times. “We want those customers to appreciate CB2 and Crate at the earliest age.”

Fernish caters to college graduates, who are likely to hop from job to job and city to city

Such companies as Rent the Runway and Fernish enable clients to obtain and use items for as long as they are actually needed. Some rent per item, others charge a monthly fee. Several mall retailers have gotten in on the act too, among them American Eagle Outfitters, Express, Rebecca Taylor, REI, Vince and, in the near future, Urban Outfitters, according to published reports.

Rent the Runway allows clients to wear stylish apparel for a flat monthly fee

Items are delivered with return shipping labels to make the process as convenient as possible. Rent the Runway has set up drop-off and collection areas at WeWork and Goldman Sachs to make the process even easier.

American Eagle is one of several mall retailers that now offer the option to rent

Rental companies offer customers the option to wear clothing and use items they normally could not afford to purchase outright. When the time comes to switch homes, this also frees people from the hassle of hiring moving trucks.

REI permits the rental of fancy tents and other gear that customers do not need to own

“I want nice things,” Lili Morton, 36, told the newspaper. "But I’m also not going to drop thousands of dollars all at once on a bunch of things when I don’t know in a year if I’m going to be in the same place.”

By Edmund Mander

Director, Editor-In-Chief/SCT

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