Charity shops saw sales increase while high street had a 'torrid' year

12 Feb 2020 News

Charity shops saw their sales increase significantly in the last quarter of 2019, outperforming the high street, research from accountancy firm BDO has found.

Charity retail sales grew by 3.5 per cent in October, by 5.8 per cent in November and by 3.9 per cent in December compared to the same months in 2018.

The research is based on sales data from 4,000 charity shops. BDO said that both new goods and donated goods sold well over the quarter.

Both Oxfam and Save The Children have independently reported strong retail performances.

A difficult year for the high street

By comparison, the high street had a less prosperous year. BDO says 2019 was the fifth year of falling in-store sales for retailers and called it a “torrid” year for the UK high street.

According to its High Street Sales Tracker, in-store retail sales were down 1.9 per cent in November and only slightly up in October and December (0.7 per cent).

Economical uncertainty and ethical purchasing

According to BDO, the strong performance of charity shops could be the result of both economic uncertainty prompting people to be more careful with their spending, and of an increase in ethical purchasing. 

Fiona Condron, partner in the charity sector team at BDO, said: “There has been a lot of political and economic uncertainty in the last year, and some high-profile retail failures during the summer, which has added to shoppers’ reluctance to spend. 

“However, while low levels of discretionary spend and the rise in conscious consumerism is hitting high streets hard, charity retail seems to be reaping the benefits as shoppers turn to more affordable and sustainable alternatives.”

Earlier this year, both Oxfam and Save the Children said their charity shops had good results in 2019.

Oxfam reported its best Christmas performance in eight years, with sales up by 7 per cent on last year. Save the Children grew its charity shops’ profit by almost a third year-on-year thanks to a combination of strong sales and lower spending levels.

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