Wages in charity shops rise as retailers struggle to recruit ‘high-quality’ staff

02 Oct 2023 News

Staff wages in charity shops have increased by 16%, as charity retailers still face a shortage of “high-quality” candidates, according to new research. 

Published today, Charity Finance magazine’s Charity Shops Survey 2023 reveals that staff costs at 35 charity retailers rose by 16% overall between 2021-22 and 2022-23 while their workforce grew by 6%.

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

Both BHF and Age UK reported higher staff costs despite their workforces shrinking.

This year, participating charities were also asked about their rates of staff turnover and absences.

Increase in staff costs 

Some 35 charities completed both the Charity Shops Survey 2023 and last year’s survey.

For these charities, BHF recorded the highest increase, with wages in its retail operation rising from £69.7m to £79.4m during the period under review.

This is despite the charity’s latest and previous submissions showing that its number of full-time equivalent (FTE) retail staff fell by 61 to 2,582. 

BHF said the increase in staff costs is mostly due to a pay review carried out in November 2022. 

In comparison, Oxfam GB spent £20.5m on staff costs in 2021-22 and £23.9m in 2022-23, while its number of FTE retail staff went from 866 to 887.

Meanwhile, Age UK’s staff costs rose by £2.1m to £16m, and its number of FTE retail staff declined from 633 to 628. 

Increases in staff costs could be due to charities increasing salaries in line with inflation or to compete with the rest of the sector and other industries. 

For instance, Oxfam GB and some local Age UK charities have committed to paying the Real Living Wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation for all UK employees.

Shortage of ‘high-quality candidates’

In 2022-23, the number of FTE retail staff at the 35 charities that answered both years increased by 6%. 

Many respondents to the survey noted a shortage of “high-quality candidates” and positions remaining vacant for longer than usual.

BHF said that “there is still a high level of competition for talent, combined with a limited candidate pool in some areas, which means it remains a candidate-driven market”, with candidates requesting “more flexibility when offered roles”.

The Hospice of St Francis said: “Recruitment continues to be difficult, candidates are requesting fixed days, no weekend working and shorter hours. The traditional flexibility expected by employers for retail positions is becoming less viable.

“The candidate pool has also been significantly eroded with higher wages and shift work offered by other service industries ie hospitality. Low unemployment rates are impacting on wage levels ie higher wages offered for less experienced candidates.”    

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