Many outlets were forced to turn gifts away because of a shortage of volunteers or storage space. "We had 80 bags through the door one day, 50 the next," said Lynda Harker, manager of Help the Aged's shop in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
The disaster has revealed public misperceptions about charity shops, with donors leaving blankets, toys and food. Charities prefer to get these from local businesses.
"The public needs to be aware that donations by and large won't be flown out," said Jo Stetzel, business development and marketing manager at the Association of Charity Shops. "It's a hard call for charities - they don't want to put people off."
Some Oxfam shops temporarily appealed for cash only. "Our shops do what is right for their area," said a spokeswoman.
- See Finance, p15.