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Big challenges as charity shops prepare to reopen

This post is 12 months old

Huge amount of donated goods await but volunteer numbers will be down

Charity shops will be “full to bursting” when shops reopen in England in two weeks time.

Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, says a new challenge faces the sector as it copes with huge amounts of donated goods from the thousands of donors who have been doing clearouts during lockdown.

Almost £300m is taken at the tills of the UK’s 11,000 charity shops.

However as all new donations are being quarantined for 72 hours, charities are facing unique challenges with storage.

Osterley said: “"We're not just anticipating a normal three months' worth of donations but also the extra stuff that people may have picked out to donate during their clean-ups."

As such the Charity Retail Association is urging the public to think about what kind of goods they are donating.

Barnardo's, one of the country's leading charity shop chains, is advising customers to call their local store to ensure the shop is able to take the items, in order to help manage the expected influx.

Oxfam is asking customers to stagger donations to avoid items being left outside: "We welcome that many people are taking the opportunity to de-clutter during lockdown and are asking people to hold on to those items and donate them when shops and donation banks are open again."

British Heart Foundation runs 750 stores but will operate a staged opening in two weeks time.

"From mid-June, we will reopen a small number of BHF shops to establish new safe ways of working with others to follow," said Allison Swaine-Hughes, retail director at British Heart Foundation.

Cancer Research UK, with 600 stores, plans a phased-reopening from 29 June.

"We're planning significant safety measures and putting new processes in place to receive and handle donations," said Julie Byard, director of trading at Cancer Research UK.

However Oxfam, which has 650 shops, said it is still deliberating on its stores opening. "Our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and customers," the charity said.

While charities struggle with donations, volunteers could be lacking.

The Charity Retail Association says it is expecting a temporary shortage of volunteers when shops re-open again.

"Some may still be in isolation because of the Covid-19 crisis, while others may simply have fears of being out and about," said Robin Osterley.



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