Oxfam's shops have experienced their first drop in donations for eight years. Donations to its network of 714 shops were down by 12% so far this year. More than 80% of Oxfam's income from its shop come from selling donated goods
Oxfam attributes the fall in donations to the recession. "As families in the UK tighten their belts and buy less, they replace less and therefore have less to donate to charity shops", said a charity spokesperson. In addition, people are moving home less, and this has contributed to the drop in donations as fewer people are clearing out their house of unwanted possessions.
However, demand for donated goods remains high: the number of shoppers in Oxfam shops remains at the same level as in 2008. As a result, sales in shops are actually 5% higher than last year.
Oxfam say that this increase is due to a range of initiatives including partnering with Marks & Spencer (which brought in an extra £1.8 million in its first year), opening new fashion boutiques, asking volunteers to keep shops open for longer, and making best use of its unique recycling facility Wastesaver.
North Yorkshire, north London, Nottinghamshire, Devon and Cornwall have seen the greatest dip in donation items, whereas the West Midlands, Tyneside, Teesside and south Wales have been the least affected.
Oxfam is taking a bullish attitude to the opportunities open to some charities in the recession. For example, as businesses close down shops, so more properties become available in desirable areas at lower rents.
Nevertheless, Oxfam’s Director of Trading, David McCullough, appealed for more donated items. He said: "To continue helping as many people as we can, we desperately need to continue transforming donations of unwanted clothes, books and homewares into lifesaving funds for our work."