Almost a third of UK adults believe charity shops will be more important to society than ever in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, providing job opportunities and much-needed funding, a survey from the British Heart Foundation has revealed.
According to a June survey of more than 2,000 consumers aged 16 and above, carried out by the charity in partnership with Censuswide, 29 per cent of UK adults believe charity shops would be more important to society in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Almost half of the survey respondents (42 per cent) said the shops would provide jobs and volunteering opportunities in communities at a time when the UK is facing a recession, while 71 per cent of respondents said they were a source of affordable items to those with financial concerns.
Consumers also recognised the value of charity shops as a fundraising source, with almost seven in 10 people (68 per cent) noting they brought in vital funds for charitable causes at a time when many are in high demand due to the pandemic.
Younger consumers were the most likely to increase their visits to charity shops, with a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents aged 25-34 reporting they would be more likely to shop in charity shops after the pandemic than before, compared to just 6 per cent of respondents aged 55 and above.
Allison Swaine-Hughes, retail director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This pandemic has been devastating for so many of us and the reopening of charity shops is going to be vital for millions as we look to recover.”
“Charity shops provide high quality items at affordable prices, power charitable services that have never been more in demand, re-use thousands of tonnes of items and provide a community space for so many volunteers and customers.”
In July the British Heart Foundation announced a consultation on cost-saving measures that placed 300 jobs at risk, following a “devastating” loss of income due to cancelled fundraising events and the closure of its 750 shops. The charity furloughed about 80 per cent of its 4,000-strong workforce under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the majority of whom had staffed its charity shops.
Announcing the measures, chief executive of the charity Dr Charmaine Griffiths said the charity had “left no stone unturned in finding new ways of generating income”, but that the organisation had been forced to consider reducing its activities and the size of its workforce.
“This has been an incredibly difficult decision and it will be even harder for those people who may leave our BHF team,” Griffiths said.
“We deeply regret the impact this may have on those colleagues who are affected and will explore every avenue to minimise the number of job losses, including through the re-allocation of roles within the organisation.”