Oxfam to launch range of 'modern' Xmas gifts

JUSTIN HUNT

Oxfam is to unveil a new contemporary range of Christmas gifts this year in a bid to compete more effectively with high-street department stores.

The gifts will all be available for under £10 and include a range of toiletries, beaded fabric picture frames and wooden toys for children. The products reflect the findings of market research which Oxfam recently conducted into what its customers would like to buy from its shops in the run up to Christmas.

"We have sourced gifts that will sell best and fit in with Oxfam's ethos,

said Oxfam's marketing manager Anne Harvey. "It's the first time we have gone out and asked people coming into our shops what they want and need at Christmas. It looks very different from the purely craft-based ethnic-type of gifts we have had before.

New gift suppliers have had to comply with Oxfam's ethical trading policies.

Harvey said research showed that the average Oxfam shopper is female and in her mid-thirties with children. These customers have a preference for modern contemporary gifts and typically do not have much money spend per present. In previous years they bought Oxfam cards but not gifts.

Other charities such as Cancer Research UK are also introducing more contemporary presents this year. "Like Oxfam we're finding that more of our products are of a contemporary nature. We're offering a variety of photo albums, leather bound notepads and suede handbags. There are some quite funky designs,

said Simon Ledsham, head of central operations at Cancer Research UK.

"We've found that you need to be a lot more innovative and creative in the products you are selecting. Gone are the days when you can just roll out the same product Christmas after Christmas. You have to be constantly on the look out for new buyers."

Although research indicates that women are the main buyers from charity shops, both Oxfam and Cancer Research UK are offering a range of male-oriented gifts this year. Oxfam shops plan to target men with Fair Trade food hampers and coffee mugs.

"Charities are there to run businesses successfully. The trend is moving towards being far more cutting edge and competitive with the commercial sector,

said Leka Klouda, executive secretary of the Association of Charity Shops.

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