Charities report bumper day of sales as locked-down shops reopen

Salvation Army shop

The British Heart Foundation and Salvation Army rang up their busiest day of sales ever on Monday as their charity shops opened for the first time in nearly four months after the coronavirus lockdown.

The BHF recorded more than £1m in sales, with furniture proving particularly popular, as customers refreshed their homes in advance of being able to welcome visitors again later this year. The Salvation Army said its sales had been double that of a usual Monday and donations had also been high.

The Charity Retail Association, which represents about 400 charities running thousands of shops, said most outlets in England and Wales had been able to reopen despite a slight drop-off in volunteers.

Robin Osterley, the CRA’s chief executive, said charity shops had been benefiting from greater interest in recycling and reusing items, as well as efforts to find bargains while financial times were tough.

“The environment is definitely driving growth, and people want to know that profits from what they buy are going to a good cause rather than a hedge fund,” he said.

The strong sales are good news for charities, which have endured from a dive in funding during the high street lockdowns over the past year.

The BHF said its net income had been cut in half over a difficult year in which it had been forced to cancel fundraising events and close shops. The group has had to cut its funding for new research into heart treatments from £100m to £50m in the past year.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, the retail director at the BHF, said the charity had been “absolutely thrilled” at the record day of trading. “We saw incredibly strong sales of furniture, as customers look to refresh their homes, and with spring on the way, also look to update their wardrobes. Every item sold will help us continue to fund our life saving heart research.”

She urged the public to continue donating and shopping, and said stores were particularly keen to receive summer clothing to sell through the coming season. Those unwilling to visit stores can post smaller items, such as jewellery, vinyl records and cameras, via the charity’s freepost donation service.