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Second-hand Clothing Retail in the Cape Coast Metropolis

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This survey explored second-hand clothing (SHC) trade in the Cape Coast Metropolis in the Central Region of Ghana. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the commonly patronized second-hand clothing and the reasons why the SHC business was on the increase in the study area. The mixed method approach was used to collect and analyze data. Views were sought from ten (10) SHC traders who were selected purposively and conveniently. Data was collected through the use of interview schedule and observation checklist. The quantitative data generated frequencies and percentages and this was presented in charts and tables. The study revealed that brassieres, boxer shorts, dresses, blouses and towels were the most commonly sold SHC represented by 90% with 80% each for shirts, T-shirts, footwear and bags whilst 70% for bedsheets and jackets (60%). Shirts (89%), dresses (81%), towels (77%), T-shirts (76%) and footwear (71%) were the most patronized second-hand clothing. The trade was lucrative and the consumers found the products satisfactory, hence the need to focus more attention on issues of SHC retail regulations and monitoring. Keywords: secondhand clothing, retailers, undergarments, innergarments, outergarments, accessories.


The global demand for clothing keeps increasing and businesses in this sector seem to offer benefits in terms job creation and revenue generation. The sector also supports economies through its production and marketing (Forum for the Future, 2010). In Mangieri’s (2006) opinion, clothing has historically connected Africa thus, increasing global economy. Second-hand clothing (SHC) otherwise referred to as used clothing has been found to be globally making waves on the markets. Slotterback (2007) noted over 100 countries globally that have markets for such commodity. These figures currently could be underestimated. Ease of accessibility, affordability, convenience and revenue generated from this business could be among the driving force for the rise on the number of people who engage in this business. Again, employment in this field, range from to merchandizing, with numerous sectors working under the second-hand clothing business. The SHC markets are complex in nature with active links that go beyond geographical reaches but given limited academic attention (Jester, 2002).

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The retail in second-hand clothes is a well-established activity with internet website advertisements where people donate used clothes to charitable organizations who anchor trading of SHC (Mkhize, 2003). The availability of SHC on the African markets presupposes increase demand of the commodity by the patrons (Hansen, 2005). Awumah (2012) affirmed that the second-hand clothing business is thriving because patrons have affectionately developed immeasurable interest for the commodity. Ghana is ranked among the biggest buyers of cast-off clothes in the world (Wallop, 2014). Figures supporting this showed that 30,000 tonnes of used clothing arrive in the docks of Accra which is the capital city of Ghana every year.

Similarly, Meginnis (2012) presented that in one Zambian market alone, there can be up to five hundred (500) second-hand clothing traders at once, thus showing how much this activity is integrated into some developing countries’ markets. This form of trade was the easiest form of starting business in Zambia and Ghana cannot be exempted. Among the clothes found at second-hand retail markets in Ghana published in Chronicle on August, 2008 consisted of shirts, dresses, panties, ‘T’-shirts, jeans, trousers, towels, underwear (Okoampa-Ahoofe, 2008). Again, evidence from this indicated that virtually all other types of clothing could be found as second-hand at the retail on the Ghanaian markets. Awumah’s (2012) findings at the Ghanaian ports also identified several confiscated bales of used undergarments. Players in this business are not limited by status or gender. Hansen (2000) found both young and adult males and females of varying educational and ethnic backgrounds in Zambia engaging in SHC retailing. Field (2004) found more women actively involved in SHC business than men. It is undeniable true that SHC business offer lots of benefits to patrons.

Employment creation in SHC business is difficult to quantify as many repair and perform laundry activities such as washing, ironing of used clothes and accessories to earn living. In addition, the revenue paid by dealers and retailers goes a long way to support the economies. Rivoli (2009) identified multiple factors influencing the export destinations for used clothing to include: transport costs, local socio-political contexts, trade liberalization and the removal of import bans on used clothing, which are all externalities that can lead to rapid shifts in markets. Keat (2006) stated that sellers are motivated to do more of anything that increases profits and less of anything that decreases profits, hence other issues that need to be considered are often ignored. The demand and supply theory an economic model of price determination, was adopted in this study to help explain how people get motivated to enter into a trade considering consumers demands of varying needs yet might be ignorance about the implications patronage of such products. The demand for a good or service is the quantity that people are ready to buy at various prices within a given time period (Keat, 2006). Supply of a good or service on the other hand, is the quantity that suppliers will be willing to bring to the market at given prices (Worthington, Britton & Rees, 2001).

The demand and supply theory is of interest in the present study because, it can be used to explain the driving forces behind active retail of second-hand clothing in Cape Coast irrespective of the health risk associated with the commodity. As more patrons get involved in the consumption of second-hand clothing, more suppliers are attracted to enter into such businesses. Revenue paid by dealers and retailers goes a long way to support the economy. Second-hand clothing traders are usually unorganized as there are many that move from house to house and the streets to deliver these clothing items to buyers. This has influenced the SHC market such that all kinds of clothing could be found at retail.


In spite of these benefits identified, issues relating to revenue loss within this sector need to be considered since retailers are usually unorganized with many performing door to door and street trading and delivery of the commodity, escaping from being taxed, hence making revenue collection difficult. In spite of these benefits identified, issues relating to revenue loss and health that surround the trade and consumption need to be considered. Second-hand clothing traders are usually unorganized as there are many that move from house to house and the streets to deliver these clothing items to buyers escaping from being taxed, hence making revenue collection difficult.


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