Charity shops- not cheap as chips
It’s the end of 2013. Some may be celebrating to see the back of the old year, others may be hoping for a better 2014. Either way, the dragging-on of this latest recession, coupled with the ever-rising cost of living has meant more and more of us are looking for ways to save a few pounds. Just don’t include your local charity shop in your money-saving hit list.
Charity shops are a staple of our high streets- with more than 10,000 of them up and down the country, an increase of 10% on last year, they may be the only thing saving many smaller shopping streets. However, cost of living increases seem to be also invading our charity shops, so much so, that some people have started calling charity shops ‘greedy’ for charging too much for their goods.
Charity shops have always been a slight retail-anomaly – while trying to raise money for their respective charities, there was always an implicit charitable purpose within the act of selling second hand stuff to people who couldn’t afford new. Both the charity and the empoverished shopper benefitted. But with more and more people shopping at charity shops, how can shop managers tell between those who are genuinely in dire straits, and those merely looking for a bargain?
Oxfam is one of those most criticised for pricing their items highly, with various examples of items retailing for hundreds of pounds, particularly in London stores. Ian Matthews, Oxfam's head of retail, told The Guardian:
"The public kindly donates stock to Oxfam and we believe the best way to thank our donors is to get the best price we can, which in turn raises as much money as possible for Oxfam's work. All our shop managers have the flexibility to set their own prices, using their judgment and some guidance, to decide what prices and products will best suit customers in their location."
And who wouldn’t expect prices to be more expensive in London, particularly where donations include designer names and labels, and even binbags from the Beckham household? But customers are complaining that they are being priced out – and not just for designer labels. Modupe Tijani, 59, a carer from London, said she often sees clothing from Primark being sold at higher prices than it cost brand new. "It's not supposed to be like this," she said.
If ‘ordinary’ people are finding themselves too poor to shop at charity shops, heaven help the genuinely poor. And if shops are purely serving bargain hunters, or dealers looking to turn a quick profit at the charity’s expense, shouldn’t they charge as much as possible?
So what do you think? Would you consider shopping second-hand if it was the only way to afford that must-have designer item? Have you been a charity shopper in 2013 and have noticed prices increasing? Isn’t this just the way of the world?