Charity retailers face higher costs as good-quality donations decline 

05 Oct 2023 News

Costs in charity shops have increased while the quality of donations has declined, exclusive research has revealed.

Charity Finance magazine’s Charity Shops Survey 2023 shows that total expenditure at 35 charity retailers rose by 14% to £554m between 2021-22 and 2022-23.   

The survey, published this week, also reveals that staff wages at these charities increased by 16% during the same period while their workforce grew by 6%

The annual survey received responses from 43 charities of various sizes, including the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam GB and Age UK.  

Its publication coincides with Charity Finance Week (2-6 October), Charity Finance’s annual week of face-to-face and virtual events, content and thought leadership initiatives for charity finance professionals.  

Expenditure rises by 14%

Some 35 charities completed the Charity Shops Survey for 2023 and 2022.

At these charities, total retail income increased by 11% to £697m against total retail expenditure of £554m (14% increase). 

These respondents reported higher annual rental charges, which increased by 2% to £98.9m, meaning that the average rent for a charity shop in the UK reached £26,323.

When it comes to cash donations in these shops, people gave £11.3m in 2022-23 compared with £9.3m the previous year – equivalent to a 19% increase.

For instance, Keech Hospice Care’s shops took £22,271 in 2022-23 (227% increase year-on-year), Oxfam Ireland’s shops recorded £143,730 (up 127%) and St Rocco’s Hospice’s shops received £8,436 (122% higher).

Drop in good-quality donations

Many respondents noted receiving fewer high-quality donations, as people are holding onto quality items longer and cutting back spending on new items because of the cost-of-living crisis.

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices said: “The cost-of-living crisis has largely been favourable to our trading.

“However, we’re concerned about the quality and quantity of donations now that more people are selling on platforms like Vinted and Depop and there is more competition from the high street stores, eg John Lewis and Mint Velvet welcoming secondhand goods to be donated to them.”

Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity said: “Although our donors continue to be extremely generous, donation levels have dropped slightly; I expect because people are making an economic decision to try to sell their own things first through apps like Vinted before donating.”

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