Charity shop sales boosted by public donations surge, research reveals

Charity shop sales improve markedly over the summer following a surge in donations of stock from the public, research has found.

A study of charity retail over the summer has found that sales are still down on last year but improved dramatically between July and August.

This follows a rise in public donations to charities to support their retail operations, which were able to reopen from June after shutting their doors during Covid-19 lockdown closures.

The figures show that like for like sales were down -44.7% in July. But by August this decrease had improved to -28.6%.

In addition, charity shops have closed the gap on mainstream High Street shops, which saw a fall in sales of -39.4% in July and -28.1% in August.

The figures have been released by accountancy and business firm BDO in its High Street Sales Tracker.

BDO hays that an increase in donations to shops is a key factor, with charity shop sales of second hand goods performing better than new goods.

Last month St Barnabas Hospice announced it had been forced to suspend donations after receiving 50 tonnes of items in a month.

Around half of charity retailers tracked said they had successfully reopened at least part of their store estate, with some opening all shops or intending to do so in the run up to Christmas.

Despite the improved sales over summer, BDO warns that a recent rise in the Covid-19 infection rate could lead to further High Street restrictions. Charities with less developed online sales and e-commerce operations may be hardest hit if shopping is restricted further.

“While the picture has been improving for charity retailers, there remains a significant gap to traverse before like-for-like sales are back into more ‘normal’ territory,” said Fiona Condron, charity retail partner at BDO.

“Nevertheless, the pace of recovery is encouraging as shops continue to reopen - with one charity retailer even reporting higher-than-expected sales this month.

“However, with new COVID-19 restrictions now in place, and worrying signs that infection rates are once again on the rise, the outlook remains very uncertain.

“While many commercial retailers are able to rely on online sales channels, charity retailers with less sophisticated e-commerce operations may find themselves more susceptible to the impact of any reduction in footfall.”

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