Without doubt charity shops are now definitely mainstream. Not only are there more than 6,000 on the high street but they are also considered a sufficiently important socio-economic phenomenon to warrant this serious academic overview of their history, development and changing status.
The book includes analysis of key retailing issues - customers, demand, donations, staffing and pricing - and of the social role they play in providing support to both customers and volunteers.
Charity retail directors might not find anything startlingly new here but it is helpful to have the information collated in one place. In addition there is some useful and relevant new information presented from the authors' own research. For example, in the US charity shops have successfully increased their donations by locating collection points in or near air force and army bases.
Also relevant is the comparison made between VAT and sales tax in the US; the majority of US states do not levy sales tax on the sale of second-hand goods. This type of example may be of help in our continuing attempts to retain the zero rate of VAT on the sale of donated goods here.
Overall, the authors' analysis of charity shops adds to our understanding of their success, social impact and future direction.