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