Charity shop recovery at risk due to local lockdowns

The summer recovery of charity shop sales is at threat from new regional Covid 19 lockdown restrictions, a report has warned.

Monthly like-for-like charity shop sales were down over the summer but steadily improved between July and September, according to latest figures.

While sales were down -44.7% in July, they recovered to -28.6% in August and to -21.1% in September.

The figures have been revealed by accountancy firm BDO in its High Street Sales Tracker, which looked at the sales of more than 2,500 charity shops.

But BDO warns that local lockdown measures in the highest alert level regions are set to see a significant negative impact on footfall for charity shops. Currently a number of cities and towns across the UK, including Liverpool and Manchester, are in Tier 3, the highest alert level.

Footfall and staffing have been highlighted by charity shops as key challenges they are already facing due to the pandemic, said BDO.

Fiona Condron, charity retail partner at BDO said: “While we have seen a steady recovery in charity store sales over the last three months as more shops have reopened, major uncertainties remain.

“In normal circumstances, the lead-up to Christmas should be a key period for many charity retailers, but new local lockdown restrictions are already impacting high street footfall and staffing availability, both of which risk blowing the recovery off course. While many commercial players can rely on online sales channels to compensate for lost high street custom, many charities aren’t so lucky.

“With so much uncertainty ahead, charities may need to rethink their approach by avoiding over-reliance on future charity store revenues and refocusing their efforts on diversifying their revenue streams.”

The tracker also found that medium sized retailers reported the strongest results for their charity shops and large charities did well in the new goods category.

In September BDO’s High Street Tracker detailed a surge in donations of stock to charity shops over the summer. In August St Barnarbas Hospice announced it had been forced to suspend donations after receiving 50 tonnes of items in a month.

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