We Need To Talk About Charity Shops

Photo of a rail full of clothing

Challenging the narrative around charity shopping as NCBI retail reopens for the first time this year!

NCBI is reopening its doors and expanding its retail chain with the opening of a second pop-up shop under Re:Newed for NCBI brand on Dublin’s Henry Street, new shops in Ashbourne and Killarney as well as the acquisition of the former Age Action’s shops on Camden Street, Cherry Orchard and Dún Laoghaire, Ballincollig in Cork, Newbridge, Co.Kildare and Monaghan Town. During lockdown, we took the opportunity to get a greater understanding of who are our customers and what motivates them to keep returning. Some of the findings were illuminating!

A market research survey of 1,000 adults was completed in February 2021.

From the list of multiple-choice options, supporting the charity (76%) and getting a bargain (68%) are the main reasons customers shop in charity shops. With a further 36% saying they want to buy environmentally and sustainably. Interestingly this dedication to sustainability is twice as important to women than men. NCBI is very committed to the environmental agenda and is keen to emphasise customers’ positive environmental impact when they support sustainable fashion.

Photo of our charity shop in inchicoreThe survey found 20% of respondents use charity shops monthly or more often, with another 11% shopping every 2-3 months in a charity shop. This was spread evenly across age, social class and location. Having such a regular customer volume is very heartening, especially when the survey revealed that another 20% said they plan to visit the shop more often once they are reopened. This was highest among those aged under 35years. It is great to know the younger generation are enjoying charity retail shopping for their own gain, which in turn benefits the charity’s cause and the broader environment.

NCBI are delighted to receive these insights as it is crucial to stay in touch with our customers. Overall, the feedback was highly positive, but some points got our attention. As Ireland second-largest charity retailer, we want to challenge the narrative around charity shopping!  NCBI want the public to know how important charity retailing is to protecting the environment.

  • 23% of respondents said they prefer to buy new clothes – but the impact on the environment is significant. Producing one new t-shirt requires approximately 2,7000 litres of water and one new pair of denim jeans requires approximately 7,000 – 10,000 litres.
  • 56% said they would be concerned about hygiene and germs because of Covid19. All our clothes are steam cleaned and due to Covid 19, we now quarantine all donations. We also have a contactless donations area in all shops.
  • 8% said charity shops don’t stock high-end brands. Well, gladly, that leaves 92% knowing where the hidden gems are and that’s in our 130+ shops throughout the country.

Chris and Beverley ncbi Henry streetBeverley Scallan, Head of Retail explains “We are excited at reopening and expanding the NCBI chain with now over 130 shops countrywide. We hope the new NCBI shops will become a cornerstone of their communities similar to our other shops. We have transformed the interior of many of our stores using recyclable materials and powerful messaging to reinforce to customers the importance of shopping sustainably while still helping to raise funds for NCBI. The acquisition of the Age Action stores and opening of new shops in different locations enables us to reach new customers and challenge their perceptions of charity retailing. Think Global, Act Local.”

We urge customers to take a fresh look at charity retailing and be pleasantly surprised with the quality stock and customer service on hand. All donations of clothing, furniture and homeware gratefully received.