Charity shops more popular than eBay

People now prefer to buy from charity shops rather than online marketplaces like eBay, new research shows. The data, released by nfpSynergy, also shows that four in five of us have visited a charity shop in the last year, up from two thirds a decade ago.

The study asked 1,000 people whether they would prefer to buy a range of items from a charity shop or an online marketplace. Charity shops ranked higher for almost every kind of product, including books, clothes, DVDs and jewellery. Researchers also found that on average, 54% of the public would buy the items from charity shops compared to 40% who would turn to online marketplaces.

The data shows that 84% of people would rather buy books from charity shops compared to 53% from online marketplaces. The results are similar for adults’ and children’s clothes (62% and 45% for adults’, and 45% and 35% for children’s), CDs, DVDs and music, (73% and 53%) and jewellery or antiques (41% and 40%). Of the 16 items asked about, only food and toiletries would see more people heading for the online market.

People were also asked if they had visited a charity shop in the last 12 months and 81% said they had, up from 68% in 2004. The poll also reveals people’s perceptions of charity shops. Despite many describing them as old fashioned and overpriced (15% and 12%), plenty of people see them as exciting and fashionable (12% and 13%). The research is a boost for charity shops as they try to shed their less fashionable image of recent years.

  • When asked where they would shop for various items, 54% of people preferred charity shops compared to 40% who preferred online marketplaces
  • There are big gaps in preference between some items, like books (84% vs. 53%), cards (75% vs. 38%), entertainment (73% vs. 53%) and adult clothes (62% vs. 45%)
  • Children’s clothes (45% vs. 35%) and jewellery (41% vs. 40%) were a little more difficult to decide
  • People only preferred online marketplaces ahead of charity shops for food and toiletries
  • 81% of people said they’d visited a charity shop in the last year, compared with 68% in 2004
  • Several people described charity shops as ‘old fashioned’ (15%) and ‘overpriced’ (12%), but many see them as ‘exciting’ (12%) and ‘fashionable’ (13%)

nfpSynergy’s Head of Data Analysis, Cian Murphy, said:

"Charity shops are often accused by the media and retailers with vested interests of 'taking over the high street'. What our research shows is that the British public love charity shops and see them as an important part of their community. 

The fact that people would rather go to their local charity shop than go online for most things shows the importance of charity retail as a sector and a presence on our high street. Charities should be proud of their shops, not apologetic."

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