The site, www.oxfam.org.uk/shop, will sell 50,000 items donated to 16 high street shops and the charity wants it to raise £2m a year. By January 2008, a further 17 shops will come on board to offer a total of 120,000 items to internet shoppers.
Oxfam hopes to tap into the growing trend for UK consumers to shop online. Online sales currently make up at least 17 per cent of the UK’s overall retail market as expensive rental prices and changing consumer shopping habits put the squeeze on traditional businesses.
Oxfam has already made good money online – £300,000 though sales on eBay and AbeBooks.com in the past financial year.
Tricia O’Rourke, a spokeswoman for Oxfam, said the online store would operate alongside existing stores, so this did not mark the end of bricks and mortar charity shops. “It’s complementary to them,” she said. “The items that come into individual shops will continue selling as before – this is an additional market for them. We see this with other retail business – the move online has actually meant more business overall.”
Oxfam’s online shop will feature donated items, including clothes, books, music, household goods and collector’s items. It will sell more than 100 new fair-trade goods, including jewellery and chocolates, as well as the alternative virtual gift range, Oxfam Unwrapped. Specialist online volunteers will upload the items for sale to be sold at fixed prices.
Oxfam has not implemented a system to reclaim in Gift Aid the tax paid on donated items, but has plans to introduce one in both its online and high street shops.
The online shop is not currently available to overseas shoppers.