Some charity shops may need to employ waste removal companies to deal with fly-tipped donations left during lockdown, according to guidance on reopening the retail sector.
This is one of the suggestions in a reopening pack for charity shops issued by the Charity Retail Association (CRA), which also advises organisations to consider bereavement and wellbeing support for returning staff and volunteers.
Donations and waste dumped outside charity shops “pose an environment health concern, fire risk and may limit access for key services”, the pack says. It advises managers “in the first instance to contact your local authority”. However, it goes on to say that “if needed, private waste collectors may be available”.
The pack, published online last week, says that is does not know when lockdown is likely to end, but reports that CRA members expect it will take at least seven days after restrictions are lifted to get charity shops reopened and ready for business.
There are “many unknowns” for charity shop managers trying to plan for after lockdown, the CRA says, but the pack works on the assumption that shops will be reopening before the coronavirus pandemic is over, and will need to enforce social distancing rules and additional sanitary measures.
It also assumes that personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be mandatory for charity shop staff, but it does recommend that managers think about providing staff with disposable gloves and perspex shields for the till, as well as using floor tape to encourage social distancing.
Nearly eight out of 10 CRA members say they plan to reopen shops on a phased basis. As a result, charities will need to consider whether to focus resources on opening the most profitable shops first to maximise income or on the easiest-to-open shops in order to re-establish their presence as quickly as possible, the pack says.
Charities will also need to change the layout of shops and how to access them, according to the CRA.
Its recommendations include regulating how many people can enter shops at one time, staggering the hours for accepting donations, encouraging donors to telephone in advance, limiting the delivery and sorting of donations to one larger premises, and leaving 72 hours before processing new donations.
The CRA also advises that the value of rag – unsold and recycled donations which are sold on to the textile industry – may fall once lockdown is lifted, as charities turn to the service in large numbers.
The reopening pack will be updated as new government guidance is issued.