Monday, 25 November 2013

Charity Shops and Footfall

From the BBC

Charity shops boost local business, combat unemployment and even help tackle social isolation, according to a report by the think tank Demos.

The report says despite negative perceptions there is "no evidence" the shops cause "High Street decline".

Councils should "do more to support charity shops", the report adds.

The rising number of charity shops has led to calls to limit their numbers, but the report says the benefits they bring are "often unrecognised".

I've had a read of the Demos report, which, being Demos is full of terms like "social value" that should clue you in to the sort of people writing it. It includes quotes from charity shops and landlords about the benefits of charity shops, including the benefits to other shops, but they couldn't seem to find a non-charity shop owner who thought they were a good idea. It's real aim is to defend the dodging of business rates, despite the fact that charities already get tax and VAT relief.

Going back to Mark Wadworth's post about shopping centres and how the owners control the mix of shops, it's worth nothing that places like The Oracle, Cribbs Causeway and Central Milton Keynes don't have charity shops. They don't think that having an Oxfam shop in their centre is going to bring people in, or more accurately, that the people they bring in aren't going to be the people that the other shops in their centre want.

But that is a certain sort of shop, generally more middle- to upmarket ones.

The footfall that a charity shop is going to increase is the footfall of people on lower incomes. It's going to help shops like Poundland or CEX. And for that, I'm somewhat tickled because the sort of people who are most vocal about saving the High Street aren't just against boarded up High Streets, they want a gentrified High St full of small tasteful independent shops, and not the likes of Poundland or CEX.


Dinero said...

A couple of questions.

charity shops do not pay for their stock or their employees so is it not the case that they stop the price of high street rents falling to where other commerce could operate

and more importantly charity shops are called charity shops but is that a correct noun as the landlord takes the larger share of retail so is it true that charity shops pay lower rents.

as I said questions

Curmudgeon said...

Surely in general a proliferation of charity shops is a symptom of high street decline, not a cause.

There was a good example of the tendency you describe in your final paragraph when certain people were aghast at Brandon Lewis' suggestion that McDonalds and Burger King were good for high streets.

A K Haart said...

Typo - "it's worth nothing that places like The Oracle..."

I agree with you about the middle class demand for gentrified shops. Gentrified and expensive.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, DEMOS will say anything provided you pay 'em.

Go to their site


The polling, conducted by Populus Data Solutions, interviewed 2,225 adults between 10-12 April 2013.

The polling was carried out as part of a Demos project investigating charity shops aiming to measure the actual economic and social value they bring to communities. Further information on the project can be found here:

The project is sponsored by The Charity Retail Association.

Bayard said...

"TS, DEMOS will say anything provided you pay 'em."

Is this not the raison d'etre of all think tanks?

Anonymous said...

On my high street , I have seen real businesses being ejected at the end of their lease to accommodate another charity shop willing to pay top dollar rent. It is true that they encourage footfall but them feet got no soles on their shoes!

H said...

Except, perhaps, the OXFAM shops which only sell books. The ones in Chiswick and Marylebone High Street seem virtually swanky.

Mark Wadsworth said...

H, my sister once worked in the central "sorting office" for a charity with a lot of shops, they put the donated stuff into piles - the better stuff went to the shop in the poshest area, the barely saleable junk went to the shop in the crappiest area.

DBC Reed said...

As Curmudgeon says charity shops are an effect of High Street run-down not a cause.People let shops to Charities because they can't get "proper tenants"ie all those stressed out private sector operators who just want to give employment with no heed of profits.
If you want to point the finger at the decline of shopping malls, high streets and corner shops, look at predatory discounting by the big supermarkets and online operators like Amazon (which have knocked over small bookshops by the hundred since the demise of the Net Book Agreement, the last hold-out of Resale price Maintenance a voluntary private arrangement which shaped British retail.(And manufacturing)
Stigler is producing more of the jeering right wing drivel, not even very high -class drivel.Attacking Charity Shops!How low can you go , as Chubby Checker said ?

Bayard said...

DBCR do you actually read anyone's posts or comments before launching into a left-wing diatribe? Nowhere in the post has TS attacked charity shops, he has simply rubbished a report from a think tank who were obviously told what to conclude by their paymasters.

As to your predictable "it's all the fault of big business" drivel, it may fit with your ideology, but not necessarily with the facts. The town I grew up in never had a bookshop until after the end of the NBA. It then built up to three, two of which were second-hand bookshops. It now has only one, but it is the second-hand shops that have gone. My current local town had a bookshop until very recently which only closed because the owners wanted to retire. If I buy a book online, I buy it from Abebooks, which is a website that enables thousands of small independent bookshops to sell online. They are usually cheaper than Amazon.

DBC Reed said...

Resale Price Maintenance is not a left wing cause: it is either right-wing or apolitical.It is possible to be a supporter of small shops and attack large predatory discounters at the same time.It is generally the case that those who bluster about the need to protect small shops and SMES, become demented by any attack on Tescos and Amazon.
I stand corrected in one regard(sarcasm): TS is all in favour of charity shops and just expressed himself badly.