Charity shops not feeling credit crunch

WHILE many businesses struggle to survive during the current economic uncertainty charity shops are seeing a rise in donations - with more people turning to second hand goods to cut costs.

Lizzie Parry

WHILE many businesses struggle to survive during the current economic uncertainty charity shops are seeing a rise in donations - with more people turning to second hand goods to cut costs.

Stores across the region have reported no noticeable fall in demand and in some cases there has been an increase in trade as people look at ways to make their money go further, a survey by the East Anglian Daily Times has revealed.

More individuals are visiting their local charity shops instead of just heading for the high street and they are remaining positive in the face of the economic downturn.

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Helen Waller, manager of the East Anglia's Children's Hospice (EACH) shop in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, said the credit crunch has been anything but detrimental for them.

“We are finding that we are doing far better over the last few months,” she said. “More people are starting to think about shopping in charity shops and realising that you can get really good quality stuff in shops like ours.

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“You don't have to pay high street prices for clothes; many people donate brand new items to charity shops before they have ever been worn.”

And it's not just sales that are up - donations continue to come in thick and fast from local people.

She added: “The quality of the things we get donated is very good. It never ceases to amaze me how much people donate to us; I have three collections a week to take items to the central distribution centre in Thetford.”

Simon Hempsall, marketing and communications manager at EACH, said: “Financially we remain in good shape as the public of East Anglia continue to offer much needed support for their local children's hospice.”

The Salvation Army has also seen a greater variety of goods being sold in their shops in Woodbridge and Saxmundham.

Captain Trish Tazzini-Lloyd, commanding officer of the charity in Suffolk, said sale figures were good.

“I think our figures are slightly up in Woodbridge,” she said. “It could certainly be as a result of the credit crunch, we see a lot more people coming through the doors now and in the last six to nine months we have seen an increase of different people, whereas before it used to be the same regular customers that came in.”

Shirley Garnham, manager at the St Elizabeth Hospice charity shop in Nacton Road, Ipswich, also said there had been a large number of donations. “The situation economically is certainly not having a negative effect on us yet,” she said.

Chris Pink, Cancer Research UK's area manager, added: “This year we've seen a significant increase in sales in the Suffolk area with people keen to make the most of the bargains available.”

However other charities in the region are feeling the pinch as people tighten their purse strings.

Emma Creasey, Oxfam's area manger for East Anglia, said there had been a fall in the number of donations they had received. “With fewer items donated, we have fewer items to sell,” she said.

The RSPCA in particular are feeling the repercussions of people having less to spend, as sales from their shops fall and more animals are abandoned as people struggle to foot the bill for their pets.

Kieron Adams, manager of the Suffolk East and Ipswich branch, said: “Our funds have dropped distinctly, most people give to charity because they have enough to live on but obviously people's first and foremost priority is feeding themselves and their families.”

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