Thrifty shoppers across the UK are turning more to charity shops since the economic downturn.
In my local area of Clapham, I found that charity shops including Trinity Hospice, Cancer Research UK and Ace of Clubs have seen a rise in sales since the recession.
Agnes Maciol, Manager of the Cancer Research UK store said that there has been a 6% increase from last year.
She said: "I think it's because of the financial climate, many people turn to charity shops."
Duncan Laird, a retired volunteer at the Trinity Hospice agreed, saying that shoppers are now targeting charity shops for their needs much like any other in the high street.
He said: "Far more people are coming in. People often ask for specific things. Before the recession people would come in and browse. Now they come in and ask for a coat or a lampshade."
The Charity Retail Association also saw a growing trend in shopping second hand since the economic downturn, putting it down to the quality available and the low prices. A study by the Association also revealed that 58% of charity shoppers said that low prices were an appealing factor.
Shoppers from the area echoed these findings, saying that price was a big factor.
Jeremy Chick, 31, from Wimbledon said: "If your budget is limited the importance of a bargain can become all encompassing."
Sam Robson, 26, from Clapham North agreed, and also mentioned that it was fashionable to don charity shop chic.
He said: "I've got plenty of friends who dedicate days to shopping solely in charity shops in order to get that vintage look. Plus it has the added bonus of being cheaper than high street stores."
Agnes said that charity shops have become part of the retail sector, and that nowadays they do actively compete with other high street stores in terms of pricing, merchandising and quality.
Shopper Cils Williams, 23, from East Dulwich had also noticed their transformation.
She said: "They look like proper shops; they look like H&M now. Back in the day it used to be like someone's basement. Everything would be everywhere and it would be hard to find anything. Now it looks like they're competing with other high street shops."
Ace of Clubs charity shop takes on a look more linked with a high end boutique, rather than a store raising money for the Clapham day centre it runs for South London's homeless and vulnerable people.
Amanda Brooks, Business Manager at Ace of Clubs said that choice of fabrics and colours they use are all to bring on the wow factor for customers. Before their image make-over last year, Amanda said that the shop had looked more like a jumble sale. But now they use big window displays to try and tell a story and create the best possible visual impact.
"Fabulous spreads fabulousness," she said. "If you have amazing stuff in the window, we'll get amazing stuff in, as they know we'll display it beautifully."
Avid charity shopper Shreena Soomarah, 25, from Battersea Park especially likes the Clapham charity shops due to their decor, as well as the bargains that she always manages to find.
She said: "I've had some great finds in them. Rare vinyl for £1, posh things from House of Fraser for 10% of the price, and my mum got a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag for £10!"
Charity shops have clearly benefited, but shops like Unique Shoes in Clapham have noticed a slump in sales in the last year.
Joe Kasias, Sales Assistant at Unique Shoes said: "If last year was 100%, this year it is 20%, especially in the last two weeks. This time last year we did £14,000. This year in the same week, four." He added, "Now people are attracted to places that are a lot cheaper."
Another trend spotted has been the amount of donations received nowadays at charity shops. While shoppers are now more likely to visit, staff have said that people are giving less.
Duncan said: "My theory would be that people are holding onto their clothes a lot longer. People might have given clothes to charity to buy new clothes, but now they might not be sure if they'll have a job next week so they're holding onto their clothes a lot longer. "
Agnes had also seen a reduction at her branch, and has tried to improve the quality displayed in her store to get more donations coming in.
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