Charity retailers outperform high street stores amid 'conscious consumerism'

Charity retail sales soared in Q4 2019, bucking the high-street trend amid 'conscious consumerism'.

New research from accountancy firm BDO has found charity retailers are outperforming high street stores as shoppers turn to more affordable and sustainable alternatives.

The results come after both Oxfam and Save the Children recorded an increase in sales, particularly around the Christmas period when shoppers sought recycled and second-hand goods at a lower cost.

BDO's Charity Retail Sales Tracker, which monitors the monthly like-for-like sales of 4,000 charity stores, reported total like-for-like sales increased by +3.5% in October, +5.8% in November and +3.9% in December.

The strong performance across charity shops compares to 'another torrid year for the UK high-street', which recorded its fifth year of failing in-store sales for retailers in 2019, the firm said.

BDO said charity retailers are likely to be benefiting from 'conscious consumerism' and a 'lack of consumer confidence', which are making shoppers think twice about what they buy and where they buy from.

Christmas provided a strong boost to many charity shops, with sales up +3.9% from a very strong base last year (+6.0%). This is the fifth consecutive year of sales growth during December.

“Despite tough conditions on the commercial high street, charity retailers are bucking the trend and have pulled off another performance to be proud of," BDO partner, Fiona Condron said.

“There has been a lot of political and economic uncertainty in the last year, and some high-profile retail failures during the summer, which has added to shoppers’ reluctance to spend.

“However, while low levels of discretionary spend and the rise in conscious consumerism is hitting high streets hard, charity retail seems to be reaping the benefits as shoppers turn to more affordable and sustainable alternatives.”

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