Are charity shops a good presence on high streets?

The first charity shop was opened in Oxford in the year 1948 and has positively transformed high streets across the UK. It’s common to spot charity shops in every high street in England, but according to research published by the Charity Retail Association, 50% of the general public feel there should be less. But how could people feel negative about charity shops raising money for people in need?

The study consisted of asking the general public whether there should fewer charity shops on a “healthy” high street, and 50% agreed. This news is not promising for the charity sector, one of the biggest issues in most high streets is there’s an imbalance in towns for independent businesses struggling to stay in business.

Ian Nicolson, head of retail for EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) quotes, “It is the exponential rise in the popularity of online shopping that has reduced high street activity, and the increase in the number of charity shops is down to the fact that they have filled in gaps that have come about from this decline in high street shopping.” We can all agree that for charity shops it’s not just about a business, it raises money for special causes and gives volunteers the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. The 50% of the general public that feel as if charity shops are holding back high streets are turning away from positive history, and fundraising for charities across the nation.

“Less and less are we seeing charity shops all looking the same; Oxfam, for example, has opened shops dedicated to books [...] Rather than holding back the high street, we feel we are part of the dynamic that is helping the high street to thrive. A healthy high street creates a win-win for us - we make money and in turn help the charity with its work.”