Oxfam to start reopening English shops from 15 June

The charity says it hopes to have as many as possible open by the end of July, but outlets in Wales and Scotland will remain closed

Oxfam will begin reopening its high-street stores from 15 June, the charity has announced.

The charity closed its near 600 UK stores on 21 March because of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequently furloughed about two-thirds of its 2,100-strong UK workforce.

Most of the furloughed staff worked in the charity’s trading arm, which raised £17.3m in the year to the end of March 2019.

The government announced last week that non-essential shops in England would be able to reopen from 15 June as it eased lockdown measures imposed because of the pandemic.

Oxfam said today that it would begin opening “a number” of shops in England in two weeks’ time with the aim of having “as many as possible” open by the end of July.

It is unable to provide precise figures at this stage because it is unsure how many will be able to open safely on 15 June.

Its stores in Scotland and Wales will remain closed: stricter lockdown rules apply in both countries.

The charity is appealing for volunteers to step forward to help it get its retail operation up and running again.

It said each store typically relied on about 30 volunteers, with more than 20,000 required in total. Anyone interested in applying can register their interest online.

The Charity Retail Association warned last week that charity shops could be hit by the “double whammy” of a high number of donations and a reduced workforce as they begin to reopen.

Robin Osterley, chief executive of the CRA, said most of its members would adopt a phased approach to reopening to ensure they could implement safety measures such as social distancing and a 72-hour quarantine period for donated items.

Oxfam said the quarantine period would mean supporters might need to phone ahead before making any trips to deliver items because individual stores would have limited storage space.

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “Our shops are a much-loved part of their communities and, at this difficult time, we can’t wait to reopen our doors and reconnect with our supporters and shoppers.

“Our shop staff and volunteers are working hard to make sure we can welcome the public back into Oxfam stores safely."

Oxfam said its online shop had already reopened but its donation banks remained closed.

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