Charity shops battle to recruit staff amid 'extraordinary' retail boom

Seven in ten charities are struggling to recruit shop staff amid a post Covid-19 pandemic boom in voluntary sector retail income.

The findings have emerged in the Charity Retail Association (CRA)’s quarterly market analysis for June to September 2021.

This reveals a 6.8% increase in income per shop each month, compared to the same period in 2019.

Also, over this time the average transaction was £6.90, compared to £5.64 two years ago.

But 70% of charities are reporting difficulties in finding staff for their retail operations. In addition, 57% are reporting that staffing levels are denting profits.

“It is clear that what we are seeing is an extraordinary growth in our sector in spite of workforce issues that almost everyone is encountering,” said CRA chief executive Robin Osterley.

“Imagine how much more we could be doing if we were able to conquer those issues as well.”

The CRA’s latest figures also show that seven in ten charities are selling online and digital sales are now 2.43% of total income.

Green consumers

Osterley added that a key factor in the income growth has been a heightened focus among consumers, particularly young people, in the environmental benefits of buying second hand goods and clothes.

“This is creating not only reliable sources of stock, but also a large cadre of people choosing to shop in charity shops as an antidote to fast fashion, as a way of reducing their carbon footprint, and as a sign of their personal commitment to reducing waste,” he said.

Another factor has been economic uncertainty among consumers post pandemic, which has seen a boost in interest in cost effective goods.

Last month the British Heart Foundation launched an urgent appeal for volunteers to work at its shops after losing more than 2,500 retail workers during the Covid-19 health crisis.

It warned that unless more volunteers come forward it will be forced to reduce its opening hours ahead of the traditional busy festive period for charity retail operations.

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