Since starting Bank and Vogue almost 20 years ago, we have witnessed many changes. Most importantly we have seen a growing acceptance of donating used goods among consumers and this has fueled our strong and vibrant textile recycling community. With the downturn in the global economy a few years ago, we saw the growth of thrift stores and even with the economic recovery, we are pleased to see that the majority of our thrift partners continue to experience growth as second hand goods continue to be trendy.
Price shifts and geo-political issues have been a constant in this market. The Mexican border continues to challenge our domestic industry and ongoing instability in Syria and Ukraine are having an impact on the credential and mixed rag market.
Over the last couple years, we have been witness to rising prices putting pressure on end customers – primarily in Africa. While good news for charities and sellers, it was tough on the grading community and especially, their customers. But now, the tides have suddenly shifted due to these many and significant factors.
Since the beginning of 2014 and more recently over the past few weeks, we have seen prices drop as much as 25%. Many pose questions which focus on when prices will stop falling and at what level will they bottom out? Charities are concerned with the impact on funding for their local programs and even buyers wonder how to take advantage of this shift particularly as the length of this shift is unknown.
Bank & Vogue does not employ a psychic (we continue to try to find one for our business) so we are never 100% certain what the coming Fall and Winter seasons will bring (although we are all hoping for a less harsh winter). We must continue to understand how these global and domestic factors impact our industry such as those mentioned above. Unfortunately they are not the only challenges so adding to geo-political strife, the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa will send ripple effects across the continent for some time until it is under control.
While the North American economy continues to show signs of strength, there are also factors here that are having an influence on pricing and availability. Freight costs are increasing due to regular seasonal fluctuations but also a demand for truck drivers as the number of truck drivers decrease year after year. There is currently a demand for more than 30,000 new drivers in the US alone. As freight costs increase so does the cost of used goods for importers abroad. Sale of used goods has also increased as more charities, businesses, municipalities and, individuals are aware and understanding of the importance of textile and household goods recycling with many new business entrants (primarily private credential collectors).
In a market landscape like this, it is important to evaluate your business and industry partners and stick with those who have proven to provide regular, reliable service promptly and efficiently. Logistics and shipping costs should also be considered. We continue to work with some of the best freight forwarders to provide cost efficient options for our sellers and customers. We have an entire Logistics department dedicated to managing shipping – so you don’t have to.
Until our tarot cards instruct us otherwise, we will continue to analyze global influences and listen to what our sellers and customers are telling us about their specific challenges. As a trusted agent and broker for our customers and sellers, we will continue to share our perspective and analysis and work hard to earn and keep your trust. We will continue to advocate for you in this fluctuating market.
 US Truck Driver Turnover Rate Remains High, but for Now Seems to Remain Just Below Crisis Levels. Supply Chain Digest. March 25, 2014