Charity shops have received a belated Christmas present, as new figures show that they have bounced back to beat pre-pandemic festive sales figures.
Meanwhile, almost half of charities are planning to open new shops in the coming six months.
The news comes in figures from the Charity Retail Association, which show a 9.1 per cent increase in the average number of charity shop transactions between October and December 2022.
This is compared to the figures registered over the same period in 2021.
The average transaction value was £7 in October-December 2022, compared to £6.74 in the same period of 2021.
The CRA said that this was the first Christmas trading period to be unaffected by Covid-19 since 2019.
The data was based on a survey which included 52 charities, representing a total of 3,780 shops.
The CRA is a membership organisation for charity shops in the UK.
In 2022, the organisation had 472 members, representing a total of 9,116 charity shops.
According to the CRA, as of January 2023, charity shops represented more than 3 per cent of all retail units in the UK.
In 2022, the profit contribution from charity shops to parent charities amounted to £363m, while charity shops employed more than 26,800 FTE employees, CRA figures show.
According to Robin Osterley, chief executive of the CRA, 44 per cent of charities surveyed by the CRA said that they had plans to open new stores in the next six months.
He said: “Charity shops have had a tough time over the past few years with Covid-19 and lockdowns severely impacting on the ability of bricks-and-mortar shops to trade.
“It’s fantastic to see the charity retail sector bouncing back and continuing to grow as shops develop new initiatives to meet the needs of their customers and attract new shoppers.”
Osterley added: “Charities have developed a number of new strategies to boost footfall and engage with their local communities, including embracing digital marketing to reach new audiences, selling online, opening new superstores and encouraging donations to meet customer demand.
”The cost-of-living crisis has shown just how important charity shops are in supporting people to have affordable shopping options with plenty of choice, and the data shows that they’re a vital and growing presence on local high streets.
“The sector is still facing challenges, with many shops in need of more staff and volunteers to meet demand, but overall, the research shows that charity retail is in a really positive place and we anticipate that it will continue to thrive in 2023.”