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Charity Retail Association warns of catastrophe for charity shops in a no deal Brexit

Charity Retail Association warns of catastrophe for charity shops in a no deal Brexit

A no-deal Brexit will be a ‘catastrophe’ for the UK’s charity shops, the Charity Retail Association has warned.

The Charity Retail Association is calling on the government to protect the sector’s ability to trade if a deal is not reached with the European Union before the 29 March.

It warns of potentially crippling costs resulting from the holding significant quantities of unsellable stock in the event of a “no deal”.

The concerns have been raised by members and result from a plan by the government to replace the CE marking on products with a UK-only equivalent.  According to the Association, such a change would affect charity shops in two main ways.

Firstly, it says, because donors often acquire items several months or years before they donate them to charity, it is likely that charity shops will continue to receive items bearing a CE marking for some time after a new UK marking is introduced.

Also, where charity retailers sell a small amount of bought in goods, there may also be a backlog of these items which cannot be sold, or significant costs associated with changing the labelling on these items.

The Charity Retail Association has written to the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, to demand that he protect the sector by:

  • Ensuring that in the event of a no deal Brexit, any items in stock in charity shops on 29 March are not required to change their CE labels to bespoke UK labels
  • Guaranteeing that second hand goods can continue to be sold in perpetuity by charity shops, even if they only have a CE label
  • Ensuring that, for new goods that charity shops sell the “period of grace” promised by the government, which will allow retailers and manufacturers to make provisions for the change, lasts as long as possible

Robin Osterley, Charity Retail Association Chief Executive, said:

“If our members are unable to sell their donated stock in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, and changes to the system of CE marking, it will be a catastrophe for this uniquely British institution.

“The impact on the environment will also be extremely harmful.  Currently charity shops keep 327,000 tonnes of textiles out of landfill be reusing or recycling them instead.  If we can no longer do this, they will inevitably end up below ground.

“I am confident the government does not want this, and by complying with our three requests they can protect the UK’s network of charity shops.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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