UK charity shops generated £270m in profits in 2015/16 says report

Melanie May | 21 September 2017 | News

Charity shops generated £270 million in profits for their parent charities in 2015/16, according to the latest Demos Shopping for Good report, launched this month.
The Charity Retail Association (CRA) backed Shopping for Good report from Demos was commissioned by CRA and the Carnegie UK Trust to update Demos’s 2013 report on the charity retail sector, Giving Something Back. Shopping for Good found that charity shops have wide reaching social impact and play a vital role in supporting job seekers into paid employment as well as helping high streets and local communities.
The total income generated by charity retail rose to £1.3 billion in 2015/16, equating to roughly three per cent of the voluntary sector’s total income, and including charities that do not operate charity shops. Other financial benefits highlighted by the report include charity shops saving local councils £27m by diverting clothes and other goods from landfill. In addition, through reuse and recycling activity, the report estimates that charity shops reduced carbon CO2 emissions by around 6.9 million tonnes in 2015/16.
Women are 1.6 times more likely to shop in charity shops than men, but the report found no other demographic category to be a statistically significant predictor of use. However, the analysis did find that a number of demographic characteristics influence the likelihood of individuals donating to charity shops, with women, older people and religious people more likely to donate than other demographic categories.
The number of volunteers in the sector has risen by four per cent since the previous report, to an estimated 220,000. The report found volunteers to be satisfied with their role, with 90 per cent saying that they would recommend their organisation as a ‘great place to work’. Two-thirds of job-seeking volunteers also said that volunteering had improved their employment prospects, with one in four of the shop managers asked about the progression of their job-seeking volunteers saying that ‘all’ or ‘most’ of those looking for a job had moved into paid employment.
Two-thirds of managers say that their shop fills premises that would otherwise be left vacant. However, while three-quarters of members of the public agree that charity shops should receive business rate relief, about half think that a ‘healthy’ high street should contain fewer charity shops.


The report also makes a number of recommendations including charity retailers developing and promoting in-store services related to the mission of their parent charity or wider community need, such as the introduction of more formalised community engagement roles, and that the CRA should stimulate discussion on how to promote greater engagement in the sector from men. With women significantly more likely than men to donate and to shop, the report states that there is significant scope to expand the customer and supporter base by attracting more men into the sector.
The full report can be downloaded from the Demos site.

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