New data findings support our belief that charity shops are for everyone

We believe that charity shops are used and loved by everyone in the United Kingdom, and not just by one demographic. However, we have to myth bust charity shops regularly, and here’s two we come across regularly:

  • Charity shops are too cheap and only cater for poor people
  • Charity shops are too expensive as charities try to generate every penny of income they can

Neither of these are true, and in this blog, our new research will tell you why.

Charity shops are for all

The “find a charity shop” database is one of the most popular features on our website and is used by  thousands of people a month to find places to shop, volunteer or donate.  Our research department has recently completed populating not only our members’ shops – but non-members too – giving us a complete record of every charity shop in the UK of more than 11,250 shops. This makes it the most comprehensive database of UK charity shops in existence.

This has also allowed us to estimate the proportion of charity shops out of the total retail local units in every constituency in the Westminster Parliament.

We took this data and crossed it with information from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The IMD is the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas and combines information from seven domains, including crime, income and education. In our case, we looked at this data at constituency level.

As a result, we were able to look at every constituency in the Westminster Parliament and see both their IMD rank, and how many charity shops they were home to. If either of the myths presented above were true, then the most deprived constituencies would clearly contain a larger proportion of charity shops than the least deprived, or vice versa.

But we did not find this.

Little evidence linking charity shops with deprivation

Whichever you look at the data, there is little evidence for either claim. For example, the Liverpool Walton constituency area is officially the most deprived parliamentary constituency in the country and home to 11 charity shops. The least deprived, North East Hampshire, is home to 13. The seventh least deprived area is Mid Sussex with 26 charity shops. The seventh most deprived is Blackpool South with 24.

Throughout the list of constituencies, we could find no clear pattern linking charity shop numbers with their IMD rank.

This does not surprise us, and further backs up the findings of the Demos report, Shopping for Good, which concluded in 2017 that: “Use of charity shops transcends social boundaries. Women are 1.6 times more likely to shop in charity shops than men, but no other demographic category (age, social class, ethnicity, religion or geographical region) is a statistically significant predictor of use.”

There is no doubt that charity shops are not only a unique British institution, but one appreciated by all groups in our country. Long may that continue.

Matt Kelcher
Head of Public Affairs and Research
Charity Retail Association