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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbrian charity shops a hit with Christmas shoppers

Christmas is supposed to be a time of year to be charitable and to buy gifts for loved ones.

Matt Boyle photo
Matt Boyle

But this year, shoppers are doing both together.

Charity shops in Cumbria are having a bumper year as present hunters look to grab bargains and support good causes.

One has even told the News & Star their revenue is up by 25 per cent.

Norma Moodie, a volunteer at the Harraby Op Shop on Central Avenue, in Carlisle, said in a normal week they take around £800 over the counter. In the last fortnight, this figure has been closer to £1,000.

Artificial Christmas trees and decorations have been among the big sellers.

Norma said: “We have done really, really well.”

She puts the shop’s success down to the service people shopping there receive.

“They can come in and they can sit down and have a coffee,” she added. “Generally we are able to speak to them.

“We also let the people just wander around, we don’t ask them what they want.”

It is a similar story at the Scotch Street branch of Shelter, a charity which supports homeless people.

Assistant manager Maggie McLaughlan said: “Possibly it’s the economic environment but possibly it is because it is Christmas time and everybody seems to be more charitable.”

Cards and other packaged gifts are the big sellers there. Also popular are vintage dresses.

Maggie joked that these may be being bought by women looking to save money for their Christmas nights out.

Matt Boyle, fundraising manager at Eden Valley Hospice, said the increased number of customers were having their impressions of charity shops changed.

“We have been really, really busy,” he said. “But local people have always come back to us. They are actually getting really good quality items.”

The local news is being reflected up and down the country.

A YouGov survey commissioned by Oxfam revealed 38 per cent of respondents planned to buy a gift from a charity shop this year, compared to 28 per cent last year.

Andrew Horton, Oxfam’s director of trading, said: “In this current climate of austerity, when many people are feeling the pinch, Oxfam is a great destination for uncovering those rare, high quality items that won’t break the bank, from vintage clothing and jewellery, collectable books and vinyl, to ethical gifts and home wares. Not only will you be amazed how many names you can tick off your shopping list, you will also be helping people out of poverty.”

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Christmas gift and food shopping all finished?

Not started. I always join the Christmas eve rush.

Ages ago. I like to be organised.

Don't know. I leave it all to the wife.

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