The Big Issue has launched an “urgent” fundraising appeal as it predicts a weekly income shortfall of £100,000 in the six weeks before Christmas.
The social enterprise said magazine sales have been down by 40% year-on-year since early July, when vendors went back to selling them on the streets after the first lockdown ended.
If the same trend were maintained over the Christmas period, which is normally the busiest of the year, The Big Issue and its vendors would stand to lose £100,000 a week as a result.
The organisation said the appeal comes in response to further restrictions across the country and the lockdown in Wales, as well as overall decline in sales. It is asking the public to either buy the magazine from their local vendor, subscribe or donate to the Big Christmas Appeal.
The Big Issue also ran an urgent appeal in the spring, when vendors were unable to sell the magazine on the streets because of lockdown. It raised more than £600,000 and allowed The Big Issue to support vendors in a range of ways, from food vouchers to emotional support. Supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Co-op also started selling the magazine inside their stores.
‘I can’t sell ten magazines in a week’
Big Issue vendors buy the magazine for £1.50, sell it to the public for £3, and keep the difference. In normal times, this means people can legitimately earn an income. However, selling the magazine has become increasingly difficult, vendors say.
Lavinia Neda, who sells the magazine in Cardiff, said: “It is a very strange time at the moment and very worrying, I can’t sell ten magazines in a week now, this has never happened to me in all my time at The Big Issue. I used to be able to sell five to ten in a day before the virus.
“Some people who were my regulars before don’t buy the magazine now, they say hello and are still friendly but they don’t buy the magazine, I suppose because they are worried about the virus. It’s a bad time for everyone, not just Big Issue vendors.”
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “Christmas is traditionally a big time for our vendors, with high streets bustling and everyone full of festive cheer. But if the current trend continues both our vendors and the organisation face a weekly shortfall of over £100,000 during this period.
“We are calling on the public to support your local vendor where you can. If you haven’t got a local vendor, please think about subscribing or making a donation to The Big Christmas Appeal, to enable us to be there for our vendors, both now and in the future.”