Charities diversify to fill the shortfall

The Salvation Army opens a new furniture shop
The Salvation Army opens a new furniture shop

Changing with the times is something everything and everyone has to do.

In the last few years, the economy has suffered a global meltdown, leaving residents with less money and rising bills.

We have all had to find new ways to make our pennies go further, and charities are no different.

With many receiving no government support and suffering a dip in goodwill donations, charities are forced to constantly find new ways to generate income.

However, charity shops, although different from what they used to be, are still popular and profitable, perhaps the reason why Scotland has 900 of them.

One of the newest is the Salvation Army’s furniture project in Callendar Road.

The church and charity hope that the showroom, which will sell furniture and other large items, will boost its outreach work in the town and help cut down on landfill.

Profits will go to the church and community centre in Woodside Court, which runs a range of programmes including a drop-in centre, after-school club and cafe.

Daniel Rous, division charity shops operations manager, said: “This is an exciting time for the Salvation Army in Falkirk.

“The ownership for the shop comes from the local corps and so when people buy a piece of furniture they are helping the work of The Salvation Army.”

It’s clear people still like charity shops, perhaps for the cut-price items or the altruistic feeling.

The Salvation Army say it has increased part of its annual shop turnover by almost five-fold in four years by renovating existing shops and opening new ones.

And Cancer Research UK says its shops in Falkirk and Grangemouth have raised almost £4 million.

But there have been casualties.

Barnardo’s, a well-established charity shop in Falkirk’s town centre closed in May, as it hadn’t met required levels of profitability.

A spokesperson said the children’s charity had introduced donations centres where people can drop off items easily.

And, with budgets tight, charity shops are facing a threat from the rise of the ‘cash for clothing’ industry which is establishing a stronghold online.

Dozens of companies now offer residents an opportunity to get rid of old or unwanted clothes, CDs, games consoles and mobile phones.

And, unlike charities, they pay for them.

David Cryer, head of retail operations with Shelter Scotland and board member with the Charity Retail Association, said: “Cash for Clothes represents the biggest threat to the sector as it’s taking stock that would have traditionally been given to charity shops.

“In this economic climate, some people are choosing to sell their clothes. Although it’s not just clothes for sale in charity shops, it is the prime driver.

“But things could go full circle.

“The price was once so high for clothing rags that individuals and companies wanted to get a piece of the action, but what’s happened now is that the price has collapsed, so we could soon see these companies going out of the market.

“People keep predicting the death knell of charity shops, but the fact is the number of shops are growing.

“They are diversifying and thinking of successful ways to generate income.”