Charity doesn't begin at home anymore

Britons could soon be walking around in German cast-offs if the Oxfam gets its way. The charity is planning to bring second-hand clothes from Germany to the UK to make up for a deficit in donations here, according to this week's Marketing Week.

The charity confirmed yesterday that a spiralling demand for second-hand clothes and books by the booming charity-shop chains in the high street was forcing it to look overseas for its supplies.

Oxfam, which first set up high-street shops in the UK in 1948, is also planning to look for shops in out-of-town shopping centres - ironically silencing the complaints of estate agents and traders in many small towns where charity shops and discount chains are all that are left on the high street.

Ian Bray, Oxfam spokesman, said yesterday: "There is so much competition for donated goods now because the charity shops have just taken off.

"It is very much a British phenomenon. In Germany only commercial companies collect hand-me-down clothes and we see it as a way of finding more donated goods. We would favour Germany because we have a couple of shops there."

In the Nineties, the number of charity shops on the high street increased by two-thirds to over 5,000 and their turnover has doubled to almost pounds 300m a year, according to a report out this week by market research company Mintel.

Oxfam itself saw its sales in its 850 shops increase by 5 per cent last year to pounds 55m, earning the charity a profit of pounds 15m.

Oxfam considered looking overseas for its goods a few years ago but opted to increase the number of collections it made from homes using labelled plastic bags. "At first that boosted the number of clothes we were getting," said Mr Bray. "But now everyone is doing the same thing, everyone gets lots of those bags and the market is saturated." Oxfam also increased the number of goods it received by setting up clothes and book banks, but supplies from these have hit a plateau.

The decimation of Britain's high streets by the car and out-of-town- shopping centres is one factor that has led to the proliferation of charity shops paying lower rents and business rates but Oxfam is worried that it is being left behind by other retailers: "We may have to move out of town," said Mr Bray. "We have to look at what the retail market is doing."

Oxfam is also beating off competition from other charity shops, with bookshops in university towns and gift shops in tourist centres.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy, friendly and creative marketing ag...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project