Stortford charity shops report record week after coronavirus lockdown for non-essential shops ends
Residents celebrating the return of non-essential trading last week turned to the town's charity stores for donations and sales, with many shops experiencing a record week.
Monday saw people queueing outside shops in Bishop's Stortford town centre and Scope has reported a 252% increase in predicted sales and 97% uplift in donations brought in to the shop in Devoils Lane.
With people locked down for long periods potential donations were stored in homes until the reopening and a charity shop trade association urged residents to check with shops before they drop off donations.
Chief executive of Charity Retail Association, Robin Osterley, said: "Be thoughtful - is this stuff you'd be prepared to buy yourself? And the second is to contact the shop before you roll up with armfuls of goods."
But in Stortford charities were just delighted to be back in business with hopes of going some way to filling the funding gap caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ruth Blayze, executive director of retail at Scope said: “We are delighted that customers are returning to Scope shops in such high numbers. These sales translate into vital funds for Scope to run our services supporting disabled people and their families and for our campaigns fighting for equality for disabled people.
She added: "I want to say a big thank you to our retail team who have had a very challenging year and been extremely resilient and determined in their roles. I was delighted for them that their hard work paid off.
“Demand has been so high that we started to worry that we will run short of stock to keep our shops full, so if you have had a clear out over lockdown we would be very grateful for your donations. You don’t have to book an appointment just turn up at your local shop. We would be particularly grateful for spring dresses, women’s tops and accessories, and any menswear.”
British Heart Foundation (BHF) managers are also anticipating a record week, but encouraged people to keep coming in to its shop in South Street with their donations.
Louise Harbour, BHF regional director, said: “We’re hugely grateful for the incredible support of the Bishop's Stortford community since reopening our shop.
"The shop had a very successful opening day, receiving 300 bags of donations and making a fantastic £650 in sales. We’re now anticipating a store record in sales for the first week."
She added: “Spring is in the air and customers have been particularly keen to snap up items for their Spring wardrobe, and home ware items have been flying off the shelves as people look to refresh their homes."
Isabel Hospice has seen a rise in donations at its shops, including the one in Bridge Street, Stortford and Bell Street, Sawbridgeworth.
A charity spokesman said: "We have seen a large increase in donations at our shops, but we’re still in need of good-quality items, particularly small electrical goods such as music players and games consoles, vintage items and collectables.
"An early estimate is that our donations are around 40% higher than last week."
Oxfam was reporting a 77% increase in sales nationally compared to 2019 and Laura Bradley, manager of the charity's main store in South Street, said they had been very busy, but they hadn't been flooded with donations.
"Unlike the first lockdown we haven't been overwhelmed," she said. "People have been more interested in shopping than donating so we've been very busy."
Laura added: "In fact people have been very helpful and respectful, calling first to check if we are taking donations, so it's been great."
“The team are pleased to welcome the local community back and we’d like to encourage people to keep dropping by with any good quality preloved items you wish to donate. Every item sold will help us continue to fund our life saving research.”