I really hope that Charity Shops don’t start trying to compete with discount stores and turn more into £1 shops. With a surge of articles in the charity sector all about the success of charity pound shops or discount shops, it begs the question why? Is it just down to the fact that some chains are trying to find ways of selling off their excess/culled stock or does it boil down to the fact that some shops haven’t paid attention to the current market?
If you are a shop that is going to be a clearance shop, fed culled stock to sell off cheaply and you can communicate with your donors that there stuff is going off to a ‘normal’ store than you a probably onto a winner but if you’re not going to be fed stock is discounting really the answer to kick up the profits. It’s a bit like having a sale but it’s going to be continuous, the thing is a sale peaks, all the good stuff goes and you’re left with the naff stuff. Charity shops managers are no fools and you will only be getting basic items for a £1.
It all depends on who you think charity shops are aimed at, there are lots of people who moan about the prices saying that charity shops are supposed to provide cheap clothes for people on a budget. But with the arrival of cheap mass market clothing from shops like Primark and Supermarket brands, cheap new clothes are easily accessible. The days of the 1980’s and 1990’s where clothes and household items were all quite dear and there wasn’t really cheap mass produced items like there are today meant that people where either saving up for items or they were looking in charity shops. Nowadays most charity shopping isn’t out of necessity, charity shoppers today are a mix of people looking for quality brands at a fraction of the cost or quirky and interesting items, vintage pieces and moochers. Of course there will always be shoppers on a budget that charity shops attract and that great, it’s just that these aren’t the main people to be targeting as customers.
The beauty of charity shops has always been that you can get something of better quality than Primark and it’s still usually cheaper. A charity shop t -shirt from Marks and Spencer is going to last you longer than one from Primark. Then there’s also the niche market of the unusual and quirky items. It’s a matter of personal choice about how you feel about how much you are paying for the items but even if you’re in a shop that you might consider ‘overpriced’ your still probably paying much less than the item was originally worth. If a shop can sell at a certain price point then they would be fools not to, imagine if it was you selling your stuff at a car boot sale, you would want to get the best price possible wouldn’t you? and it’s just the same for a charity shop. When I see something under-priced in a shop I always want to tell the volunteer on the till that they should up the price because the item is easily worth loads more. The age old price principle is still true, price the low end cheap and get the good prices on the top end items. It is this balance that makes the great charity shops work. It’s the treasures in charity shops that make them such excellent unique places to shop, where you’ll find the likes of Whistles, Karen Millen and Phase Eight next to the likes of Peacocks, New Look and TU.
The answer to boosting charity shops income lies in attracting more quality donations and tapping into a younger target donor alongside offering a diverse pricing structure. If shops can get more people in the 20 – 35 age bracket donating, then they are on to a winner because they are the ones spending money on clothing and accessories and it’s their quality high street items that customers are hunting out. Finding a way to reach out to these potential donors could prove very lucrative…