Save The Children - Bermondsey

Charity shop numbers

We are a nation of caring people. People shop for good and do good, in more than 11,200 charity shops across the UK[1]. These consist mainly of ‘traditional’ charity shops but there are some specialist stores, such as those focused on selling children’s items, furniture and books. One of our favourites is the ‘boutique’ style store, of which there are 295 (2.6% of charity shops). These formats demonstrate that buying pre-loved items can be stylish and chic, and provide a glamorous shopping experience. These gems, usually found in larger cities, elegantly showcase designer labels and vintage treasures at a snip of the price. Shopping in these boutiques also provides a ‘glow’ from doing a good deed, no bronzer required!

Not only does shopping in a charity shop raise vital funds for important causes, it also helps the environment. Research reveals that 336,000 tonnes of perfectly useable clothing goes to landfill or incineration in the UK every year[2]. We are a nation who love to bag a bargain, love a rummage to find forgotten treasures and we are a nation that love to help others. The reality is that only 4% of total retail units in the UK are charity shops.

The retail landscape is changing, shoppers’ habits are changing, it is less transactional than it once was, and more about the added value that can be delivered – the personal interaction, the unique experience. This shift is one of the factors bolstering sales in charity shops as they do just this. Our research shows that charity shop sales have increased by 3.8% in July – September 2019 year-on-year on a like-for-like basis, bucking the trend of the commercial retail environment, which is suffering a decline of 1.7%[3]. This encouraging growth demonstrates that there is an opportunity to further develop the charity retail scene. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the sector is coming up with more innovative ways to engage with shoppers and deliver added value to the charity shop experience. This could be adopting a new service to complement the current offering or employing sideways, or ‘out of the box’ thinking to include technology in the shoppers’ journey. 2019 included exciting Instagram campaigns, partnerships with breweries and pop-up charity shops. We look forward to seeing the innovations of 2020 in our sector.

[1] Find a shop

[2] WRAP Report

[3] BRC