More than 230,000 people volunteer at charity shops in the UK.
Everyone loves a good deal, but charity shops provide far more benefits than you might think.
Leicester is a great place to find a wide range of high street chains and name-brand stores. With numerous shopping centres from Highcross to Haymarket, it’s easy to forget about the many great charity shops we have here.
To many, charity shops are where you’d go only when you’re either low on funds, or you’re looking for something no longer being sold on the high street. And even then, there are so many other options nowadays like online auction sites or vintage stores.
Charity shops offer a lot more than just that though, and not just to the consumer, but to society as a whole.
The benefits of charity shopping
The obvious benefit is of course the income they raise is used to better the lives of the less fortunate all over.
Charity shops in Leicester cover a broad range of issues from the homeless to the sick, from disadvantaged children to mistreated animals.
The money generated from these shops has continued to give people the help they need for many decades now. That on its own is a fantastic reason to use charity shops.
Some of the lesser-known benefits include positive environmental impact for one. By reusing second-hand products, charity shops effectively reduce unnecessary waste by ensuring items continue to be used sustainably.
On top of this, any item that a charity shop cannot or is not able to sell is passed on to a textile recycler so that the parts may be reused instead of thrown away or incinerated, omitting harmful gases into the atmosphere.
Lesser impact on the environment
By keeping things local, charity shops reduce the need for long-distance travel using cars or other means of public transport, reducing carbon emissions across the city.
The voluntary model of charity shops has also had a surprisingly positive effect on those employed by the industry.
Over 230,000 people across the country volunteer to work in charity shops, and 75% of them agree that doing so has increased their employability skills.
Aside from being great work experience, over 80% of volunteers claimed that working in charity shops helped to boost their self-esteem and confidence.
Volunteering has been proven to combat loneliness and isolation among older volunteers.
And while the volunteering benefits are clear, charity shops are also responsible for over 25,000 job vacancies nationwide.
These positions have reported relatively high stay rates and an average of 70% local employment, making them a great addition to local communities.
Helping the economy
Charity shops are actually a positive factor for big-name high street stores.
While many people might assume they would be business rivals as most high street shops are, charity shops serve to minimise vacancy rates, which helps in keeping the high street busy and populated.
It also achieves this by selling items that are no longer or were never sold by typical high-street retailers, so they fill a hole in the market rather than compete over the same products.
So next time you're in town and walk past a local charity shop, why not have a look in the window? You never know what you might find, and that might just be the most intriguing benefit to charity shops of all.
Written by Fox Whitemore
Fox is a 23-year-old Media and Communications graduate from De Montfort University and currently working as an intern for Cross Productions. He is passionate about writing both creatively and journalistically, loves working with the local community and would love to be writing as a full time job in the future.