Home » Blog » Charity Shops – an established and valuable part of our retail landscape. – RETAIL VIEWS AND NEWS

Charity Shops – an established and valuable part of our retail landscape. – RETAIL VIEWS AND NEWS



According to the Charity Retail Association, there are approximately 11,000 to 12,000 charity stores located across the UK. They play an extremely important role in many of our main streets, but for several years they have come under heavy criticism as somehow ‘taking over’ our local main streets and, therefore, damaging the streets. commercial appeal and dynamism of these shopping areas.

The reality is quite different. Charity stores represent only around 5% of all outlets in the UK – and according to the latest data from LDC, more than 350 closed permanently in 2020. So the impression that charity stores are growing tremendously in numbers and flooding local stores is clearly not true.

However, I think this impression may have been created because most of the charity shops are located on main streets and local residential areas – only 5% are in malls or shopping parks.

Because charity shops also need to be located near residential areas and have parking lots nearby (in order to help members of the public bring in donated clothing and other household items), it is not uncommon either. more than having two or three charity stores grouped together in adjacent retail units.

All of this just means that they are more visible to many of us on a daily basis, which perhaps leads to this widespread misconception that charity shops are way more than 1 in 20 outlets!

It is also interesting to note that the ten largest national charities (Oxfam, Barnardo’s, THF, Cancer Research UK, Age UK, etc.) together represent only 37% of all charity shops, and therefore the vast majority are smaller, lesser-known charities that are often closely tied to local communities and operate without the infrastructure and full-time paid staff of some of the major charities.

In total, charity shops provide a total income of almost £ 400million to charities each year, but rely on clothing and other household items donated by the local public for 90% of that total.

In the past year and since the first COVID-19 lockdown, almost all of the 166,000 registered charities and voluntary organizations across the UK, and not just those with shops, have been hit by several unforeseen challenges.

This has involved not only the cancellation of almost all of their regular fundraising activities such as street or door-to-door drives, as well as a range of charity-sponsored sporting events ranging from marathons parachute jumps, but also the forced closure (as “non-essential” retailers) of all their stores.

Charity shops across the UK rely on an army of over 230,000 volunteers to keep operating, but as many are retired and so much older not all of them have been able to continue due to the shielding or other health issues related to COVID-19.

This drop in charity store income occurred at the same time that the services provided by many charities were in greatest demand. With unemployment exceeding 5%, more than 700,000 jobs lost since the start of COVID-19 last year and with 5 million employees still supported by government leave plans that will inevitably have to be cut this year .

According to the Resolution Foundation, the poorest 20% of UK households have seen their savings deteriorate over the past 12 months and in a recent survey by Pro Bono Economics, 72% of charities that responded said expect demand for their services to increase in the coming months, compared to pre-COVID expectations.

Meanwhile, many of us have taken the opportunity to clear out the wardrobes and cupboards at home during the lockdown and so there are huge volumes of clothes and household items just waiting to be seen. ” be taken to local charity shops once the lockdown is relaxed.

However, COVID-19 rules mean that donated goods must now be ‘quarantined’ for at least 48 hours before being checked, sorted and displayed for sale, which will present another logistical and operational challenge for volunteers. involved, often the work is relatively small retail units with limited storage space.

So the reopening of many charity stores next week is welcome, but still not without challenges for an industry which, as a friend of mine recently reminded me, plays such an important role at both ends of the value chain (“people want to donate, and people want to buy ”) and therefore is an established and valued part of our retail landscape.


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