During the recession, charities struggled due to a lack of donations from cash strapped consumers, with many relying upon their high street shops to ensure those in need received suitable help.
Fortunately, with the economic recovery in full swing, many are finding that consumers have become more generous with donations yet are still continuing to support charity shops – and our MPs are among the bargain hunters keeping the tills ringing.
According to a poll conducted by the Charity Retail Association, 83 per cent of MPs have either a positive or very positive view of charity shops, topping the general public’s support which sits at 74 per cent.
Furthermore, 55 per cent of MPs have bought at least one item from a charity shop in the past 12 months, equalling members of the public.
When broken down into individual parties, it was found that 70 per cent of Liberal Democrats had made a purchase from a charity shop during the last year, making them the most generous. Conservative MPs came a close second with 59 per cent visiting charity shops for household essentials or clothing items, while Labour MPs trailed at 47 per cent.
However, the story is slightly different when it comes to choosing charity shops as a means of finding the perfect gift for a loved one.
Here, the Conservatives won an overall majority with 63 per cent, with Labour consigned to the opposition benches on just 13 per cent. The Liberal Democrats slipped from leaders to losers, suffering a wipe-out in this category – without recording a single percentage point!
While these results are certainly good news for charity retail, donations remain the key area in which MPs choose to support charity shops. 80 per cent of the MPs surveyed had donated at least one item to a charity shop during the survey period, compared to 76 per cent of the general public.
Charity Retail Association chief executive Warren Alexander praised MPs for their commitment to charity shops, saying; “It is great to see the continual support of members of parliament to the vibrant and dynamic sector that is charity retail.
“I hope that they always think of charity shops when it is time to clear out a wardrobe or buy a gift in the future.”
The Charity Retail Association’s survey will undoubtedly be heartening for charities which operate shops on the high street, as many have been concerned about recent calls for the government to limit the numbers allowed to open.
While charities taking-up space in empty shops undoubtedly reduces the number of vacant properties, critics argue that the increasing numbers limit opportunities for small retailers, with the business rates relief afforded to charitable organisations giving them an unfair advantage.