In 2013, Demos’ report Giving Something Back provided the first comprehensive assessment of the social value of charity retail. In 2017 Demos looks once again at charity retail to understand how things have changed for charity shops following a turbulent three years.

In ‘Shopping for Good: the social value of charity retail’, Demos updates some key data points from our 2013 study – for example, on the contribution of the sector to charitable income, reduced carbon emissions, the health of the high street, and outcomes for shop managers and volunteers. We also present new evidence on the profile of charity shoppers and donors, the impact of volunteering on employability skills, and the public’s views on the presence of charity shops in their high street. Some of the key findings include:

  • Volunteering in charity shops helps people to build confidence and develop employability skills that support the transition into paid work. Two-thirds of jobseeking volunteers say that volunteering has improved their employment prospects.
  • Charity shops continue to be a lifeline for struggling town centres, with two-thirds of managers saying that their shop fills premises that would otherwise be left vacant. However, where economic conditions are improving, charity shops are also playing an active role in supporting high street rejuvenation through diversification and specialisation.
  • Younger people are far less likely to associate charity shops with high street decline than older people (42 per cent of 18–24-year-olds compared with 72 per cent of over 65s).

The full report, including policy recommendations, can be downloaded here.

The project was supported by the Charity Retail Association and the Carnegie Trust.


For more information about the project, please contact Peter Harrison-Evans:
[email protected].