Tagged: charity shops

Even charity shops are struggling to survive in South Shields

Charity does not begin at home in South Tyneside – with fundraising shops in the borough’s main retail area facing tough times.

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ outlet in King Street, South Shields, closed its doors at the weekend.

A spokesman for the charity said it had a temporary lease and had decided not to renew after it ran out.

Apart from removing a source of much-needed income for the charity, the move also leaves yet another vacant premises in the town centre.

It is just the latest retailer to call it a day in the once-thriving street – and others admit they are struggling.

Despite some claims that King Street is “full of charity shops” there are now only two fundraising premises there – Marie Curie Cancer Care and the British Heart Foundation.

However, both outlets say they are facing challenges amid falling footfall and the “M&S factor”.

The iconic retailer’s exit from the town earlier this year is having a negative ripple effect on fellow retailers.

Lisa Burles, manager of the BHS shop, said:

“The closure of Marks & Spencer hit us really badly and the footfall in King Street has fallen significantly.

“We have really struggled since March when the shop had a refit. We had a better month last month because of the weather, but we have dipped again.

“You just have to look at the till transactions to see the reduction in customer numbers. Having said that, we’ve been here 20 years and we’re not intending to go anywhere soon.”

A PDSA spokesperson said:

“Our South Shields shop on King Street was run on a temporary lease. We always review all our shops when their leases come up for renewal. We often have to make difficult decisions to ensure the kind donations we receive are used most effectively and, regrettably on this occasion, we had to close our South Shields shop.

“We are extremely grateful for the dedication of all our staff and volunteers, and for the loyalty of our customers in South Shields. We would also like to reassure pet owners in the area that PDSA’s veterinary services are unaffected by this decision.”

A spokeswoman for Marie Curie Cancer Care shop, beside the street’s Metro station, said: “We’re getting by, but it’s a tough climate out there.”

Source – Shields Gazette, 18 Sept 2014

Sunderland charity shops losing £50,000 a year

Charity shops on Wearside are losing £50,000 a year, according to new figures.

Barnardo’s North East, which recorded the staggering losses, said city stores are losing out on tens of thousands of pounds because customers don’t understand Gift Aid.

The scheme allows those making a donation to pay a tax back sum directly to the charity by signing up free of charge.

This year, Barnardo’s in the North East has an estimated income of £417,187 from the Retail Gift Aid scheme.

However, if every person who donated clothes, accessories or goods to their local store signed up for Gift Aid, the charity could make £684,389.

This has been calculated as a possible extra £50,000 in the charity’s five shops in Sunderland city centre, Pennywell, Pallion and Seaham, to spend on services for vulnerable children and young people.

Pennywell shop manager Tracie Mitchison said the extra money could make a huge difference to Barnardos’ work. “We would love more customers to sign up for Gift Aid,” she said.

It takes no time at all, is no cost to them, but makes their money go further for Barnardo’s.

“Fifty thousand pounds in tax-back is a huge sum of money which we could do so much with in Barnardo’s, so we would really encourage people to sign up.

“We know people are busy, but a minute is all it takes to make a real difference to the children and families we work with.”

Barnardo’s is launching a campaign called Missing Millions, in a bid to claim the pounds lost each year through the poor take-up of Gift Aid.

A calculated £267,000 a year is lost to the Barnardo’s North East stores. Nationally, the charity is losing out on £6.5million.

To help Barnardo’s claim the Missing Millions, people will need to be a tax payer, and fill out a gift aid declaration form, giving their full name, address and signature.

>  I can’t help thinking that if charity shops are losing money, it might partly be due to their attempts to go ‘up-market’ and in the process moving away from their core users – people without much money to start with.

Its been noticeable in recent years that charity shop prices have rising dramatically, often to the point that you’re being asked to pay close to new price for second-hand goods.  This all dates back, I think, to that Portias woman on TV, who ‘made over’ a charity shop and changed their emphasis towards attracting nice middle class people, rather than those nasty poor people with no money. And because it was on TV, all the other charity shops followed like sheep.

Of course, the nice middle class money  didn’t flow in (why would it, when they could afford to buy new) and the core users had been driven away by high prices.

All in all, a bit like the Labour Party, and their attempts to dump  their core voters in favour of the nice middle class people…

Source – Sunderland Echo,  29 July 2014

South Shields – even charity shops are closing down

Charity shops in South Shields town centre are being hit by a “Marks & Spencer effect”.

 The retail giant vacated the town’s King Street on March 29.

Now some local charity stores say that has resulted in a noticeable reduction in footfall in and around the town centre, threatening their continued existence.

The Age UK outlet has just closed its Fowler Street store after profits plummeted and now St Clare’s Hospice has admitted its nearby store may also need to consider closure.

David Briers, chief executive of Age UK South Tyneside, said the decision of M&S to move out of the town proved a particularly “big blow”.

He expressed hopes that a new premises could be found as part of the council’s £100m ‘365’ masterplan to regenerate the town centre, but admitted “real disappointment” after the charity’s income-generating shop had to close its doors.

That decision had become increasingly inevitable in recent months.

The outlet was taking around £2,000 a week just 18 months ago, but that figure had fallen to between £700 to £800 this year.

Mr Briers added: “Closure was not a decision we took lightly, but the closure of Marks and Spencer was a particularly big blow.

“The footfall in the town centre is just not very good now and our income in the last 18 months has fallen by more than half.

“This coincided with an agreed policy nationally to close under-performing shops and the lease being up for renewal on the Fowler Street premises.

“There was also a double blow with South Tyneside Council phasing out discretionary rate relief. Profits were falling but rents were remaining the same.“

“I’m really disappointed we don’t have a shop in South Tyneside now that generates income for the charity and provides a good service and good quality toys and clothes for families on lower incomes.

“But we remain committed that if a suitable site becomes available, perhaps as part of 365, we will look at the situation again.”

David Hall, chief executive for St Clare’s Hospice, admitted the long term future of its Fowler Street store was also uncertain, again citing the M&S effect.

He said: “We have noticed a drop off in trade in recent times. Marks and Spencer and other big high street names obviously drew people into town.

“We’ll be considering the future of the premises when a release clause on the lease can be activated in a couple of years time.”

Lynn Hansom, of the Salvation Army shop in Fowler Street, added: “M&S was obviously a big loss, a lot of the older generation went there because of the quality of goods and we’ve felt the impact. Thankfully, we still have loyal customers.”

Marks & Spencer re-located staff at its King Street store to its Silverlink outlet in North Tyneside.

The closure angered loyal customers in South Tyneside, with thousands signing a  petition urging the company to consider returning to new premises in the town at the earliest opportunity.

Council officials stressed its commitment to supporting borough retailers.

A council spokesman said: “We know that the economic climate is making things tough for retailers.

“This is by no means a problem confined to King Street, with high streets across the country facing tremendous pressure and competition from out of town retail outlets and internet shopping.

“We are doing everything we can to support South Shields Town Centre and only this week revealed the first steps in our very exciting masterplan for the area.

“Working with our development partner, Muse, the 365 vision will help us to create a vibrant town centre, offering a high quality shopping and leisure experience and helping to draw in more shoppers.

“We are not complacent and hope our investment in the town centre will act as a catalyst for further economic growth in the future.”

Meanwhile, a charity shop boss has expressed concern for the long-term future of Fowler Street in South Shields.

 A section of the street is to be demolished as part of the town’s long-term ‘365’ regeneration strategy.

But in the meantime the top half of the street, on the road towards the town hall, looks “desperate”.

That’s the view of Helen Hill, manager and director of the Feline Friends charity shop in nearby Winchester Street.

She said: “Apart from the pizza shop there’s no reason to go up that part of the street and there’s uncertainty about plans for the block across the road which is due to be flattened as part of the 365 plan.

“We manage to get by because of our regular customers but we could do with the street being more vibrant.”

A source for the Scope charity shop, in Fowler Street, said the charity would “monitor” the impact the closure of the nearby Age UK shop has on its own trade, adding: “Obviously there is a concern its closure could result in a knock-on effect for other traders.”

Source – Shields Gazette,  05 June 2014

Salvation Army cuts pay of workers

The Salvation Army‘s new regional pay structure came into force at the start of the month, bringing with it cuts in pay for hostel workers – including at the Salvation Army’s Swan Lodge in Sunderland.

The charity says the cuts are in response to changes in funding for homelessness services from central and local Government.

Clare Williams,  regional convenor of the union Unison, said:  “These changes will result in workers doing the same job in different areas of the country for different levels of pay, which in itself is unfair.

“However, it is aiming to achieve this by implementing severe cuts to pay and service conditions without properly considering the effects on its own workforce and the services it provides to vulnerable people locally.

“The charity says the changes are to secure future contracts for homeless services paid for by the Supporting People Grant.

“The irony is that the impact of these cuts upon its own staff will put many on the poverty line and some at risk of losing their own homes.”

Readers might like to consider the fact that the Salvation Army are also enthusiastic users of forced labour – unemployed  under threat of benefit sanctions –  to staff their charity shops.  Perhaps they have plans to extend forced labour to other areas of their organization.

More on the SA and unpaid labour here –

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/the-true-face-of-salvation-army/

Perhaps we need a resurrection of the Skeleton Army –  a diffuse group, active  in Southern England, that opposed and disrupted The Salvation Army’s marches against alcohol in the late 19th century. Clashes between the two groups led to the deaths of several Salvationists and injuries to many others.

A fascinating – and largely unknown –  example of popular protest. Read more here –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeleton_Army