Winter weather leaves charity shops struggling
PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 January 2011
FREEZING temperatures and heavy snowfall in December caused chaos for charity shops across North Somerset, with stocks plummeting and staff struggling to fill empty rails.
Many aid organisations across the region rely solely on second-hand clothes, books and CDs to sell to raise funds for worthy causes, particularly during the winter months.
Charity store staff in Weston, which as a town has a particularly high concentration of charity shops, say donations took a nose-dive once the frosty temperatures hit.
Veterinary charity the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), which operates nearly 200 high street stores, including one in Weston, says stock levels have dropped to ‘an all-time low’, meaning that December’s sales figures are heading for a 20 per cent decline compared to last year.
Patricia Wilson has been the manager of the Cancer Research UK store in Regent Street for 11 years and says the current situation is the worst she has ever known.
The 55-year-old said: “The impact of the snow has been horrific on charity shops. It’s vital that we have the stock so we can make money for cancer research.
“The snow has had a serious impact on us. The pavements were so bad in the town last month that customers just didn’t want to go out. This has been the worst Christmas I can remember.”
Janet Charnock, who has worked at Weston’s Age UK charity shop in Dolphin Square on and off since 2000, said the shop was forced to close for one day due to the bad weather and the lack of public transport due to the snow has deterred customers.
Supervisor of Weston’s RSPCA charity shop in West Street, Rita Joynes, said her store has also suffered due to the freezing weather conditions.
The 59-year-old said: “We had considerably less donations during the snow. People simply don’t like going out when it’s so cold.
“When people do go out in the snow it’s for the necessities, but I am sure as the weather gets milder things will pick up again.”
The PDSA charity reported a 28 per cent drop in the amount of bags being taken into stores in December compared to 2009, while 70,000 fewer bags of donations were collected from supporters’ homes in 2010 compared to the previous 12 months.
All of the town’s charity shops are appealing for people to donate their unwanted Christmas gifts.