Starting next Monday, charity shops in England will be able to start the process of reopening their doors to the public. Charity shops in other parts of the UK will likely need to wait slightly longer before being able to reopen.
Feedback from our members’ meetings on reopening indicate that it will take several weeks for all charity shops to reopen their doors. This reflects the need to test out new measures to keep people safe and to test market conditions.
The customer experience in charity shops will be dramatically changed. There will be limits on the total number of people in store at any one time so that people can keep 2 metres apart. At busy times this could mean people queuing outside stores. The in-store environment will also be changed with stores adopting a wide range of measures to help keep people safe. These new measures will include changing room closures, availability of hand sanitiser, plastic guards around tills, encouraging card payment and more. Behind the scenes the way in which donations are accepted will change and donations will be set aside for 72 hours or cleaned.
Availability of volunteers and managing an expected surge in donations are expected to be significant challenges as shops reopen. We have launched two initiatives to support members to recruit new volunteers. Together with the National Citizen Service we are linking 16 and 17 year old volunteers with charity shops. If you are interested in taking part please visit: https://www.charityretail.org.uk/members-new-opportunity-with-ncs-register-your-interest-now . We have also launched a new website, https://www.charityshopvolunteer.org.uk/#/, where people can sign up to volunteer and be matched with a local charity shop. To help manage the flow of donations into stores we will this week be launching a campaign to encourage people to be mindful about what and how they donate and to contact their local shop.
The Charity Retail Association advice on re-opening can be found here: https://www.charityretail.org.uk/we-have-published-our-reopening-pack/ and this should be read together with advice from Governments across the UK which can be found via this page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19