A no-deal Brexit could be a “catastrophe” for charity shops in the UK, the Charity Retail Association (CRA) has warned.
The CRA said charity shops could face “crippling costs” if they are no longer able to sell donated stock after the UK leaves the European Union.
Its concerns relate to the government’s plan to replace CE (Conformité Européenne) markings on products, which confirms that they meet European Economic Area standards, with a UK-only equivalent in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The CRA wrote to business secretary Greg Clark last week to warn that this change could make the majority of charity shops’ stock unsellable for some time, as donated items will still bear CE markings.
It called on Clark to ensure that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, any items in stock in charity shops on March 29 would not be required to change their CE labels to bespoke UK labels.
The CRA urged him to guarantee that second-hand goods can continue to be sold in future by charity shops, even if they only have a CE label.
It also called for there to be an extended “period of grace” for charity retailers to sell bought-in goods with CE markings, to allow them to make provisions for the change.
Robin Osterley, CRA 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.
“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.”