Ways to Encourage People to Use Charity Shops

by Lauren Armstrong

5 February 2024

In light of the escalating cost of living, the expanding sustainability movement, and environmental concerns, charities have the perfect opportunity to increase the number of visitors to their stores.

Due to concerns about sustainability and the cost of living, people are buying more used goods, according to research by eBay Ads carried out in the summer of 2022. Out of a thousand customers, one in four stated they had purchased used clothing the previous year, and one in five indicated they often purchase refurbished or second hand items.

Which reported on this research and have stated: “Purchasing used goods may help with two issues. It’s frequently less expensive, which is vital given the current problem in the cost of living. Additionally, consumers are becoming more concerned about sustainability, which is typically the case.

Thrift Shop Items

Here are some ways to get members of the public using charity shops.

Discuss the messages that are important to people

Make use of your charitable messaging to spread information about your stores that resonate with and interest the public. In particular, charity stoires keep items that might otherwise be thrown away in circulation because the environment is a major issue for the general population. According to statistics, 330,000 tonnes of textile apparel are kept out of the landfill by charity shops.

There are countless environmental advantages to using charity shops, ranging from encouraging recycling to lowering landfill waste. To create more impact, post these on social media and incorporate them into your marketing materials.

According to Nick Smith, retail director at Age U.K., charity retail has seen significant changes since the pandemic and, more recently, the cost-of-living problem. “Charity shops are far more than shops today. Not only do they count for a large part of income generation for us, now they are also the high street champions, integral parts of communities, expert recyclers, and champions of sustainability.”

Create relationships and campaigns

 To promote your charity shops, think about creating partnerships and marketing efforts. As an illustration, Shelter has been promoting the purchase of used clothing and extending the life of clothing through a programme called Resale Therapy.

Age U.K. and the Wombles have joined forces to promote environmental responsibility among individuals through the recycling and reuse of pre-owned items.

In addition, The Salvation Army recently launched their Reuse to Repurpose campaign, which aims to get people to purchase used goods and give to their clothes banks and charity stores.

Consider your window display

Take time to create a compelling window display that will draw customers in. The Access Group advises creating a focal point that captures onlookers’ attention.

Launch an online store

Charities can expand their reach without incurring the costs of rent by opening an online store. According to a Charity Retail Association survey, more than four out of five nonprofits with online stores claimed that having them has increased their clientele and reach. Nearly 90% of respondents claimed it enabled them to negotiate the best price for expensive and unique items.

You can find helpful advice for getting started with e-commerce in many articles, such as on Charity Digital. There are third-party e-commerce platforms available, so you don’t have to start from scratch when creating a store. Vinted, eBay, and Amazon are just a few examples.

A Man and a Woman Looking at A Laptop Screen

Utilise social media

One helpful tool for promoting charity businesses is social media. Think about sharing customer success stories on your social media channels, showcasing how donations from customers have benefited a person your charity helps. This will demonstrate to other prospective clients how their money will be spent and that it will have an impact.

Another option is to use social media to highlight some of the more unusual and collectible goods you have available. Additionally, make an effort to add some personality to your posts and invite others to chat with you about your shops.

During my time as a student, I developed a campaign for the brand Do the Green Thing alongside a group of students to spread the message of living greener and more sustainably by not buying fast fashion. One of the aspects of the campaign that made it successful was our use of social media. We set up an Instagram account and a TikTok page in which each member of the group created videos to promote making sustainable choices. 

Establish specialist stores

Take into consideration opening stores that specialise in one product, such as vintage clothing, books, or furniture. By selecting a specialism, you may be able to connect with new supporters who want to purchase something specific. 

One example of this is ‘The Green Aisle’ a bridal and prom shop offering sustainable and affordable dresses, shoes, and accessories. Furthermore, Oxfam is well-known for its bookstores, and the British Heart Foundation sells electrical and furnishings.

Promote via various channels

If you’re selling specialised, collectible, or very valuable stock, you might want to use multiple channels for sales. For instance, on your website, eBay, Vinted, Amazon, and your physical store. As a result of this, both profit and visibility have the potential to rise. 



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