The Charity Retail Association has today attacked government advisor Mary Portas for her recommendation to cap the number of charity shops able to claim rate relief, suggesting that charity shops are enjoying more public support than ever before.
Latest consumer research from the association reveals that such stores are a vital resource on the high street, pointing out that growing fears of a double-dip make them an ever more attractive option for cash-conscious consumers.
Portas, a leading retail marketing consultant, was reported as proposing the cap to last week’s meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Town Centres.
She has been appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to lead an independent review into the future of the high street and is expected to present her findings to government by the end of the year.
The Association is writing to the Prime Minister David Cameron today asking him to reject any proposal by Portas to limit the work of charity shops.
Wendy Mitchell Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the Association rejected the suggestions, claiming that problems facing the high street are nothing to do with charity shops.
“A cap on the number of charity shops is a direct cap on the amount that charities are able to fundraise at a time when grants and funding to charities are being cut.
“Charity shops raise over £200m for causes in the UK every year. Our research demonstrates what a vital resource on the high street charity shops are, particularly for those on low incomes.”
The new research, which questioned over 1,000 consumers, found that a staggering 84 per cent said that they shopped in charity shops because of the quality of the goods.
Of those who said they would increase their buying in charity shops, 52 per cent also saw shopping there as an affordable way to support a good cause at a time when they are unable to afford cash donations.
Meanwhile, 39 per cent of those intending to buy more thought that it was especially important to support charities in this way in the current economic climate.
Gerard Cousins, Retail & Trading Director at the charity Barnardo’s, agrees that charity shops are invaluable to the high street.
“They occupy otherwise vacant premises, offer a service to the local community in providing a choice of quality, affordable goods and ensure that the public can recycle unwanted items – keeping them out of landfill.
“I believe the high street should be regenerated, however I do not believe this needs to be at the expense of stores currently renting high street retail units”.