Latest CRA research shows per shop growth compared to 2019

26/11/2021 12:08

We have just published our Quarterly Market Analysis for the months of June to September (log in required), and surely this has to be one of the more remarkable versions of this document that we’ve ever seen.

The main takeaway is that, in spite of almost universally reported staffing difficulties – probably the worst staffing difficulties that our members have come across since charity retail started blossoming – the income per shop has increased by no less than 6.8% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. This is an extraordinary tribute to the hard work, creativity and diligence the sector so often displays, and I wanted to congratulate everyone on these amazing results.

I am aware that a fantastic set of results for the sector as a whole does not necessarily mean that any individual charity is doing well. I know that some of you are still suffering from the after effects of the worst year that any of us would have known in our trading lifetimes; or indeed perhaps in our lifetimes as a whole. Nevertheless, taking the UK position in its entirety, this is an incredible set of results.

Here are the highlights from the report:

  • +6.8% change in income per shop per month (vs July-Sept 2019)
  • Average transaction value £6.90 (July-Sept 2019: £5.64)
  • 70% of respondents now selling online
  • Online sales is now an average of 2.43% of total income
  • 57% report that staffing levels are negatively impacting income
  • 70% are finding it difficult to recruit staff

The above figures do not tell the whole story, and there is a lot more detail in the report itself. But 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. Imagine how much more we could be doing if we were able to conquer those issues as well!

As I’ve said many times before, this growth appears to be fuelled by two factors:

  • The pandemic has, sadly, created a great deal of economic uncertainty in individuals and families, and the effects have fallen disproportionately on the most needy. Charity shops are rightly seen as a fantastic place to go to acquire cost-effective goods that are great value for money, and that part of the service our sector performs is growing steadily.
  • The second factor is undoubtedly a huge increase in the interest in sustainability and environmental issues, particularly, but by no means uniquely, amongst young people. 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. And of course as a way to pick up incredible bargains and find much more variety than elsewhere on the high street. Shopping pre-loved is becoming much more than a trend.

So for these two reasons we don’t actually see this growth stopping any time soon. Many congratulations to you all on a phenomenally successful quarter, and long may it continue!

Special thanks to our Research Programme sponsor, Acopia.

Robin Osterley
Chief Executive, Charity Retail Association