Britian's cash-straped consumers have swapped boutiques for bargains, according to latest figures from the Charity Retail Association. Over the past financial year, the sector turned over £1bn, up 3.4% year-on-year.
'It's the squeezed middle and the people who wouldn't normally have shopped with us a year ago that we are seeing now as new customers,' explains Sue Ryder retail area manager Jo Panks. 'Customers are shopping out of necessity.'
The results support high street 'guru' Mary Portas' theory that the UK is heading for a high street packed with Cancer Research shops and British Heart Foundation jumble stores. According to recent retail figures, 14 high street retail outlets close every day, yet charity shops are calling for more donations to meet rising demand.
With the UK now officially in recession, even more consumers are set to trade down to the affordable fashions of charity shops and discount stores. This mean stormy weather ahead for high street brands. At least they can pop into their local Oxfam and pick up a second-hand umbrella and raincoat, though...