Charity shops ring in sales as high street retailers struggle

12 February 2020

Three consecutive months of growth for charity retailers in Q4 as conscious consumerism boosts sales.

Charity retailers are outperforming high street stores, reporting another strong quarter of sales with three consecutive months of growth, as shoppers turn to more affordable and sustainable alternatives, according to research by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP.

BDO’s Charity Retail Sales Tracker – which tracks the monthly like-for-like sales of 4,000 charity stores – reports total like-for-like sales increased +3.5% in October, +5.8% in November and +3.9% in December.

The strong performance for charity shops compares to another torrid year for the UK high street, which recorded its fifth year of falling in-store sales for retailers in 2019.

BDO says charity retailers are benefitting from conscious consumerism and a lack of consumer confidence which are making shoppers think twice about what they buy and where they buy from.

Christmas provided a strong boost to charity shops, with sales up +3.9% from a very strong base last year (+6.0%). This is the fifth consecutive year of sales growth during December.

BDO adds that while sales of new goods continue to do generally well for charity shops, donated goods have reported some strong performances towards the end of the year.

Sales under the retail Gift Aid scheme were also boosted throughout the final quarter of the year, reporting Gift Aid conversion rates of  31.3% (Oct), 32.2% (Nov) and 31.2% (Dec).

Fiona Condron, partner in the charity sector at BDO, says: “Despite tough conditions on the commercial high street, charity retailers are bucking the trend and have pulled off another performance to be proud of.

“There has been a lot of political and economic uncertainty in the last year, and some high-profile retail failures during the summer, which has added to shoppers’ reluctance to spend.

“However, while low levels of discretionary spend and the rise in conscious consumerism is hitting high streets hard, charity retail seems to be reaping the benefits as shoppers turn to more affordable and sustainable alternatives.”


Note to editors

BDO’s Charity Retail Sales Tracker, in association with the Charity Retail Association, outlines monthly like-for-like sales changes of approximately 4,000 individual stores.


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Laura Cairns
Senior PR Manager, BDO LLP
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