Charity shops

With your help, charity shops raise around £300m a year for good causes in the UK. Find out more about how they work.

What can I donate to a charity shop?

Most charity shops sell a wide range of goods, including accessories, bags, books, clothing, crockery, games, films, jewellery, music, ornaments, paintings, shoes, and toys. Sports equipment, musical instruments and home furnishings will also be welcomed.

Some charities may not be able to take large items of furniture, or electrical goods: if in doubt, check with the shop. Broken items, or those missing vital pieces – like jigsaws – will not be sold.

All clothing is useful – even if it has holes. Clothes which can’t be sold in the shop will be sold to textile recycling companies, so they still make money for the charity.

The Charity Retail Association has advice on donating more unusual items.

What are the advantages of charity shops?

Fundraising

Charity shops raise around £300m a year for charities in the UK. They are a convenient way for people to donate goods that they may otherwise have thrown away and turn them into funds that charities can use.

Volunteering and skills

Around 200,000 people volunteer in charity shops. Volunteering in charity shops helps people learn new skills and to build connections in their communities.

Recycling and the environment

Charity shops are a way to give used goods a second life, meaning they don’t end up in landfill. In 2015, charity shops prevented around 370,000 tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill. This is not only good for the environment, but also saves local councils money they would have had to spend on managing the waste.

Community

Charity shops also give people an opportunity to buy goods at a lower rate, which is particularly helpful for people on low incomes.

Do charity shops compete with commercial retailers?

Charity shops actually help commercial retailers. By filling retail spaces that may otherwise have gone unoccupied, they help bring shoppers to the high street. Because they rely largely on donated goods, they are not selling things that are directly competing with other shops. Charity shops represent only around 3.5% of retail units in the UK.

Are charity shops becoming too expensive?

Charities need to strike a balance between ensuring their goods are affordable for customers and raising money for their cause as well as covering their costs. The prices they set reflect this. But in fact, the average value of a sale in a charity shop in 2016 was around £4 – that’s the total sale, not the price per item, so it includes sales where people bought multiple things.

Sources and More information

Figures used on this page are from the Charity Retail Association. For more information and to find your nearest charity shops, visit their website.