Charity shop numbers have fallen for the first time in 15 years, according to data collected as part of the annual Charity Shops Survey.
The Charity Shops Survey is published for the 27th time today by Charity Finance magazine in association with Fundraising Magazine - both Civil Society Media titles - and is supported by the Charity Retail Association.
This year data was collected from 71 charities which between them ended the year with 6,482 shops, 12 fewer stores than they started the year with.
The figures cover charities’ most recent financial years, which for most respondents was the 12 months leading to March 2018.
The decline in shop numbers confirms that the previous year’s levelling off in store openings was not a blip, after 13 years of expansion.
The data submitted by charities shows that their retail income has increased by 3.8 per cent this year, a higher proportion than the previous year, while costs have increased by 3.9 per cent, a lower proportion than the previous year.
This has led to charity retail profits increasing for the first time in three years, by 2.7 per cent.
A principal factor in this has been a boost in the price of recycled clothing, which has led to income from this source increasing by 9 per cent.
After two years of falling numbers the 2018 survey shows a record level of volunteer hours per shop.
This is mainly driven by a few larger charities reporting big increases this year, so it will be interesting to see whether this is maintained in next year’s survey.
Charity retailers also continue to rank shortage of volunteers among their highest concerns, which would suggest that even if volunteer numbers are rising, charity shops need more.
Meanwhile, average wages of charity shops staff have increased by 3.3 per cent, while the overall number of paid staff per shop has risen to its highest ever level of 2.24.
This has led to overall staff costs increasing by 5.1 per cent, and salaries now making a higher proportion of income than in any previous years.
Charity Finance and Fundraising magazine subscribers will receive a copy of the Charity Shops Survey with the October issues. Otherwise, the survey can be ordered here.