Charity shop income rose by almost 4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the Charity Retail Association.
The CRA, which surveyed 4,224 shops run by 52 charities during the period, found that income rose from £120m in the first three months of 2013 to £124.2m in the same period in 2014, representing an increase of 3.9 per cent.
However, income went up by only 0.1 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, from £163.6m in 2012 to £163.4m in 2013, which in real terms actually represents a 1.9 per cent fall. The CRA attributes the decline to poor weather and a tightening of consumer budgets.
Income in the second and third quarters of 2013 fared better, rising by 3.7 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter from £123.8m in 2012 to £127m in 2013 and by 3.2 per cent in the third quarter, from £128.3m in 2012 to £131.9m in 2013.
Warren Alexander, chief executive of the CRA, said in a statement: "It is encouraging to see that annual income for shops is still growing and not tapering out. I’ve always said that charity shops are great at adapting to changes and staying relevant – and this is borne out by the fact that they are finding new ways to use their portfolio of shops, by embracing technology, changing their customer offer and working with corporate partners to share ideas."
The CRA praised the British Heart Foundation, the Air Ambulance Trust and Welsh children’s hospice charity Ty Hafan for their innovative approach of their shops. The AAT’s mobile pop-up shop model allows the charity to target specific events such as vintage fairs and motorcycle shows and reduce overheads, while BHF has seen a 85 per cent increase in profits from its eBay shop following investment in staff and photography equipment last year. Last November, Ty Hafan created Emporium, a premium boutique-style brand that operates alongside its standard shops.
The CRA used a sample size of between 4,182 and 5,202 shops for each quarter surveyed.