Charity shops in Wales face more losses during regional lockdown

26 Oct 2020 News

Charities in Wales are braced for more financial losses after a sweeping regional lockdown came into force last week.

The restrictions, which were introduced on Friday and aim to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, mean that all non-essential businesses, including charity shops, must close until at least 9 November.

There are 550 charity shops in Wales, according to the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action.

BHF: Set to lose £130,000

National charities with a major retail presence in Wales include the British Heart Foundation. All of its Welsh shops closed on Friday afternoon.

Mike Taylor, commercial director at BHF, told Civil Society News: “British Heart Foundation has 33 shops throughout Wales, including eight large home stores.

“Even allowing for the salary support being made available from the government, we will suffer a loss of approximately £130,000 as a result of these closures.

“At the BHF we have already sadly had to halve our research investment by £50m this year, which will slow scientific progress and delay the discovery of new treatments and cures.”

CRUK: Shop staff will receive full pay

Cancer Research UK confirmed that it will close 21 Welsh shops.

A spokesperson said that its charity shop staff will continue to receive full pay during the closures, with access to the government’s furlough scheme until the end of this month and then the Job Support Scheme after 1 November.

Oxfam GB’s 20 shops in Wales will also shut. The charity is only just starting to recover from estimated losses of £5m a month when its chain of 592 UK-wide stores closed during the first lockdown over the summer.

A spokesperson told Civil Society News that shop staff in Wales will be paid at least 80% of their wages or the Living Wage during the period, whichever is higher. Oxfam GB will also use the furlough scheme and Job Support Scheme to help meet these costs.

Pressure on hospice shops

A spokesperson for the Welsh children’s hospice charity Ty Hafan, which has 19 stores, said that the charity anticipates losing at least £100,000 as a result of the new round of shop closures, with 3,500 donations going unsold.

Ty Hafan relied on retail activities for £2.6m in 2019, around a quarter of its total income, according to filings with the Charity Commission.

The spokesperson said that Ty Hafan already faces an estimated £2m shortfall because of the pandemic so far.

Maria Timon Samra, the charity’s chief executive, said: “While we fully appreciate that public health is of the utmost importance at the moment and these measures have been brought in for the safety of people in Wales, we once more find ourselves appealing to the public and our supporters to help us through this latest challenge.”

'A very difficult time'

Meanwhile, the Hospice of the Valleys charity says that the closure of its six shops will have a significant impact on their income.

Alison Stallard, the head of income generation and marketing, said that the charity's smallest shop had only reopened from the UK-wide lockdown on October 12 because of the challenges of adapting to social distancing rules, and had now been forced to shut once again.

She said: “It is a very difficult time for us, but we are holding our own at the moment.”

Stallard said that the charity’s resilience was thanks to its own “lean” set-up, as well as the loyalty of local shoppers and supporters.

However, she added: “If we continue to keep having these circuit-breakers or lockdowns, where non-essential shops close, then long-term it will continue impacting on our income and subsequently the money we contribute back to hospice care.

“We operate in uncertain times.”

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