What do you think about charity shop pricing?

Laura Ashley cord shift dress bought in local charity shop for £6.50

Retro handbag bought in local charity shop for £3.99

Faux fur coat bought in local charity shop for about £15

Charity shop haul including French Connection and linea dress and Coast cardigan for £21

I would definitely class myself as something of a charity shop addict. I find it very difficult to pass one by without popping in to see if I can find myself a bargain. Lately I have also discovered online charity shopping which has put even more temptation in my way, now I can even charity shop from my desk when I am supposed to be working!

I have noticed quite a few fashion bloggers who also love charity shopping, actually there are loads of us. It is a fantastic way to constantly refresh your wardrobe and find unique and individual pieces to style whilst helping a good cause and without having much of an impact on the environment or spending too much money, what’s not to love?

But there has been a bit of an ongoing debate as to the pricing of charity shops and whether they are getting too expensive. Following the Mary Queen of Charity Shops series a few years back, Gemma at Retro Chic wrote an interesting post summing up some  of the changes that were going on back then. Since then I think things have moved on significantly, prices are definitely on the up and I am struggling to get much change from a tenner when buying something from my local charity shops recently. You can check out one of the  previous debates on the subject at Vintage Brighton.

I thought it was about time I added my two peneth to the subject of pricing in charity shops and would also love to know what you think too.

In some ways I am glad that the prices in charity shops has gone up and can definitely see justification for why even though it is costing me more money. This is why…

 Although a charity shops are run with very little financial cost (compared to conventional retailers) because they sell donated items and rely on the goodwill of volunteers, these things are not without value. They are given to people wanting to help the charity not give shoppers something for nothing. I regularly donate clothing to charity shops but would not feel happy about donating good stuff if I knew they were going to sell it at ridiculously low prices.

The increased prices of charity shops has caused me pause and think slightly more about what I buy in instead of filling my arms with loads of stuff that I will never end up wearing. As I said before charity shop clothing has a value and should be priced accordingly to encourage recycling and avoid it being wasted. There is also often a perception that because something costs more, it is more desirable. Can charity shops be blamed for hiking their prices to make their products more sought after, luxury brands have being doing for years ?

Charity shops must be governed to a certain extent by supply and demand. It seems like there is quite a lot of demand for quality second hand clothing at the moment, particularly with the current economic climate. With so much poor quality fast fashion around the supply of good quality charity shop pieces must be getting more difficult. Charities seem to be investing in more innovative ways of getting donations including bag collections and schemes with retailers. This is all great news as it keeps the shops stocked with goodies for us to buy but also must increase costs which will need to be passed on.

On the other hand I can see that for those that have very little money and have relied on charity shops as a low cost option, this price increases make life more difficult. Not sure I really know the answer to this but many charity shops have some lower cost alternatives and some shops clearly have higher prices than others so if you want a bargain, it is worth shopping around.

There are also  plenty of times when I have seen charity shop pieces that have been ridiculously overpriced. £30 for a Next dress which would probably not have cost much more than £40 or £50 when new, seems a bit much! But we have to bear in mind that those that price items are volunteers and not neccesarily experts so might not always get it right and some times when they get it wrong it could work in our favour.

My personal opinion is that on the whole most charity shops are asking a fair price for most of the items that they are selling. Some of the cheaper fast fashion pieces are disproportionately priced considering how much they cost new but as I rarely look to buy this sort of clothing from charity shops, it doesn’t really bother me. But I do think that if prices continue rise to much above what they are now, I would have to consider very carefully whether to shop in charity shops anymore. Whilst I want to support charities, if I can buy second hand much cheaper on Ebay or elsewhere then I may have to do so.

So over to you, what do you think, are the charity shops pricing themselves out of the market or asking a fair price?

With warmest wishes

Ceri X


25 thoughts on “What do you think about charity shop pricing?

  1. My local charity shops really overprice; they charge more, in some cases for second hand than the item originally cost!

    daisychain recently posted..the ladyMy Profile

  2. I almost don’t mind them making as much money as they can, that’s fair enough, but what bothers me is when they price stuff too high and then it doesn’t sell. I never buy primark stuff in charity shops, but if stuff was a pound or 50p I would. A charity shop near me had a everything a pound sale recently, and they got rid of all sorts of random stuff, so it obviously works! but pricing stuff barely less than it would be new is just irritating, and then they never get rid of their stock.

    I wore a bit about charity shop pricing here, btw.:
    Franca recently posted..Posts of the yearMy Profile

  3. I have noticed an increase, and the prices too quote above are reasonable compared to some l have seen.

    Whilst l expect to pay a fair price for an item, charities should also be aware that their customers are likely to be repeat purchasing and are already giving them a significant sum. I regularly spend £40-50 a month in our local stores. What aggravates me is when they are charging silly unreasonable prices for items that are damaged, or were cheap to begin with. Any item that is vintage is a minimum of £15, even if the fabric is stained, torn, or its just plain awful. Having said that l got lucky with an evening top l suspect they didn’t realise was vintage. It was £4, but has they realised it would have been double, at least, despite it probably not appealing to anyone other than someone like me. So in a way, l suppose l feel l am being taken advantage of. But if you see something vintage in a shop and don’t buy it, chances are someone else will buy it and cut it up.

    The other issue is that some people rely on it, as you have said. They are supposed to be charitable in their nature, after all!

    It is a shame that a lot of people will sell on eBay now, which accounts for the lack of quality stock. But not everyone can be bothered. They need to remember that they should b&w encouraging us to use them, not putting us off…
    Lady Cherry recently posted..Vintage Hairstyles: Fifties Curls for Cheats and BeginnersMy Profile

  4. I think charity shops are simply moving with the times and as everything else is getting more expensive, they have to follow suit in order to survive.
    Cherry recently posted..Matalan S/S 2012My Profile

  5. Hi my dear-as you know I do practically all mu clothes shopping in charity shops, boot sales and some at the vintage fairs. I must say my local ones are reasonably priced in that I can still get jeans, jumpers, boots, some jackets and shoes for under a fiver, if not a tenner. If I like something and its good quality or a covetable designer or vintage name I will pay the named price too even if it is expensive because I know its for a good cause. I don’t pay out on items from Primark in the charity shops as I would rather buy new from there for the same price they charge.
    mystyle recently posted..Cocoon coats, Vintage v ModernMy Profile

  6. I don’t blame charity shops for trying to make as much as they possibly can for the worthy cause. Most of ours start with a high price and reduce it if it doesn’t sell.
    I’m secretly pleased when things aren’t 50p and £1, it makes me think though my purchases more and prevents me buying for the sake of it. x
    Vix recently posted..Free People Style For (Almost) FreeMy Profile

  7. I find pricing in charity shops is really hit and miss. I know most things in my local charity shop will be much cheaper then if I go into town. Having said that even when things are over priced I’d say generally it’s only by a small amount so it doesn’t bother me too much. I would (and sometimes) do a lot of charity shopping at festivals but I’m pretty sure they put the prices up there which to me isn’t right. I love your blog now following xxx
    Lorna recently posted..Bed Of RosesMy Profile

  8. I’ve not been charity shopping in a long time! My local high street is full of charity shops but since there are so many of them, I feel that they overprice things a lot of the time. That yellow bag is awesome and such a bargain too!

  9. I definitely don’t agree with charity shops hiking their prices. It simply does not make sense. They’re not running a business – they’re just trying to raise money. The more stuff they sell, the more money they make. The more money they make, the more they can donate to their cause. While I understand charity stores having rising costs, with higher rents and utilities, it seems ridiculous that they would charge higher prices for their inventory, which they get for free.

  10. Interesting reading, Ceri! I’ve recently started working as a deputy manager of a charity shop and, to be honest, the system they have for pricing clothes is a bit chaotic. A lot of the volunteers are students from abroad who are volunteering as extra credits for university. As most of them have only been in the UK for a month or two they don’t have the knowledge of clothing labels or British currency. Some of the prices are too high as they don’t want to make a mistake. I’m starting to work closely with people to simplify things. I want the prices to be cheeky – high enough to value the donated stock and make money for the charity, but low enough for customers to get a good deal.

    Also – I’m not sure whether many people realise the costs involved in running a charity shop, such as rent, business rates, utilities (including bin removal) and – of course – all the milk to go into teas and coffees for the hard-working volunteers.
    northwest is best recently posted..Outfit: EthicsMy Profile

  11. I am a manager of a charity shop and honestly you can get proper bargains in charity shops! Compared to shopping on the regular high street.

    Many people give away very lightly used garments, sometimes unworn with tags! Really you are saving a fortune shopping in charity shops rather than regular shops. I tend to buy good quality items such as M&S, Next, Topshop and River Island- brands I wouldnt normally buy because I cant afford 25-30 quid for a fashion top. Instead Ill spend a fiver, which is great!

    We work to pricing guidelines, but if we consider something to be worth more than the guidelines ie its very fashionable, or new with tags, or is highly embellished we can go up grade by grade adding 50p per up-grade.

    For example, new items with tags on in my shop are priced at a 3rd of the RRP. Thats a bargain sometimes! I disagree, pricing in charity shops is very reasonable! Obv I have seeing Primark or George overpriced myself (in other shops!) but then, I just dont buy them.

  12. I have absolutely no problem with more expensive items (if they are in good condition and quality) in charity shops. I will pay £20 or £30 for a good/perfect set of china or a designer item (I draw the line at £30+). Provided it’s reasonable, of course. I also don’t mind cheaper items such as Primark (in good condition) in charity shops, provided THEY are priced accordingly (under £5).

    My pet peeve is when a pricing policy is brought in, but staff are not trained or supported resulting in errors which can be embarrassing to raise (or bring moral dilemmas- see my Dune/Very shoe dilemma- should I have asked to pay more for the Dunes, when pointing out Very isn’t designer?). This can lead to terrible clangers (Barnardos shops in Hillingdon…I am looking at you) such as an Argos tea set being priced, at £20, the same as a pristene 60s Denby set worth much more (so they lose the sale on the Argos, cuz no-one would pay that AND lose money on the Denby cuz it’s worth more). Clearly someone had a book with ‘old looking teaset’ but not how to spot names/quality. In the same shop, I scored a brand new pair of Dune shoes worth £80 for £3.99. Next to them, a pair of slightly worn Holly Woullerby (sp?) for Very shoes (retail new: £30) were on for £25 because – when I asked why – they had a ‘famous name on them’. Yes, dear, but she isn’t a fashion designer and they are catalogue shoes…again, someone undertrained checked the book and pricing. They didn’t sell and had to be chucked out…
    perdita recently posted..Pursuing 2012My Profile

  13. I don’t begrudge charity shops for making the most of some of the valuable items they receive – and if there is a bit of overpricing on low-cost clothing (Primark etc), then you can choose not to buy it! It’s only worth what someone will pay for it – if it doesn’t sell, they’ll bring the price down. Anyway, isn’t half of the fun in the hunt? Finding something you really like for a fraction of the price? And I’ll happily spend £10 on charity shop finds than similar items for less on ebay…

  14. Pingback: Cosumer blithering | My Illustrative Life

  15. I volunteer at a local charity shop but I do not play any role in the pricing of items. However, since I have been working there I have bought two items and got 20% off which makes them affordable. The higher prices could also persuade more people to volunteer if they get a substantial discount off any item in the shop. I think the pricing depends on what you are buying but I do think more expensive charity shops become more desirable. The one that I work at is known as “the nice charity shop” in a town with lots of charity shops but some people say that it is overpriced. However, I do not think I have seen anything over £20 since starting there in October x
    Sophie recently posted..My DrawingsMy Profile

  16. Pingback: Links á la Mode: January 12th « The Window Shopper

  17. Pingback: IFB Links à la Mode January 12th Weekly Roundup « Life of a Recessionista

  18. Pingback: IFB - Links A La Mode | Style Eyes Ethical Fashion Blog

  19. Pingback: Links à la Mode – 12 January 2012 Edition

  20. I find them very expensive when we go to England, and most of the time we go to car boot sales.
    I am so glad that you are putting my thoughts into words.

  21. Pingback: Pretty Quirky Pants | LINKS À LA MODE: THE IFB WEEKLY ROUNDUP